Limerick ‘Maid of Steel’ tackles the 10k

Megan Halvey-Ryan

SHE has two titanium rods keeping her spine straight and twenty-seven screws holding them in place but the most steely thing about Limerick teenager Megan Halvey-Ryan is her determination.

The 14-year old schoolgirl was so frail and in so much pain this time last year that she couldn’t walk, go the school, spend time with her friends or even eat.

But after spinal surgery in March, she’s now in training for the Women’s Mini-Marathon, alongside her proud mum, Sharon.

“I tell her she’s literally made of steel,” Sharon told the Limerick Post.

“When we think how she was last year, she is 100 per cent better and it’s amazing just to see her do normal things that teenage girls do,” said Sharon.

Megan became the focus of media attention after an RTÉ television Prime Time special on hospital waiting lists revealed how her young life had been destroyed by scoliosis (curvature of the spine) as she waited years for an operation.

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After a successful operation at the hands of surgeon Pat Kiely in Crumlin Hospital, Megan slowly got her life back and did the previously unthinkable last Sunday when she held a birthday party in a Chinese restaurant and invited her friends to the celebration.

And now she’s started training for the 10k which she is running to raise vital funds for Straight Ahead, a charity founded by Dr Kiely, whereby medical professionals donate their free time to help children.

The event takes place on Sunday, October 29, in the University of Limerick.

“Thankfully I have had my surgery, and now I want to raise awareness and funds for the condition,” Megan said on a web page she set up to raise money.

She is raising money for the surgeon’s charity and her mother is raising funds for the Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodation, care and support for families of ill children being treated in Crumlin.

“They were fantastic to us while Megan was in hospital,” Sharon said.

Megan still can’t run or take part in contact sports, so she is in training for the event on the treadmill in her school gym at Villiers.

“I’m just waking the dogs with her,” said Sharon.

Both are looking forward to the event but one of the huge milestones for Megan and her family will be Christmas.

Last year, she was in so much pain that she collapsed on a visit with her extended family to Santa.

“This Christmas will be very different. We all have so much to be grateful for,” said Sharon.