NO ONE can accuse Pallasgreen teenager Sean Byrnes of saying “I can’t”.
Despite being born with Spina Bifida, Sean’s motto is “All things are possible” and he proves that on a daily basis.
In recognition of his fighting spirit, 14-year-old Sean was selected to receive a Garda Youth Award, presented to young people for outstanding feats of courage, achievement and community service.
Sean has completed four Great Limerick Runs in his hand-power trike, improving on his time every year.
But that’s just one of his many achievements.
Said Sean: “In 2010 one evening when my dad and I were coming out of swimming, we saw activities going on in the sports hall. We went in to watch a group playing wheelchair basketball. I thought it was amazing and exciting at the same time. The intensity of the competition between both teams was fierce. I knew there and then this would be my next challenge”.
Sean’s parents went on to help organise Limerick’s first junior wheelchair basketball club and the Irish Wheelchair Association Junior Blitz basketball tournament.
“There would be 50 to 70 kids from all over Ireland including the North of Ireland. It was great to play and meet so many new teams where I made new friends,” said Sean who went on to be awarded Irish Junior Wheelchair Basketball Blitz’s Best Young Player of the year.
He is also a qualified scuba diver and has achieved his PADI certification, working with weights as he does not have use of his legs.
He also swims and generally is very positive about living life despite any limitations, according to his father John, who is also co-chairperson of Spina Bifida Limerick.
“He wanted to take part in the Great Limerick Run to raise awareness and to get the message out there not to give up,” said John. Sean crossed the finish line in one hour and 11 minutes and running at his side the whole way was his determined mum, Fiona.
“She ran beside him all the way despite the fact that running is not her thing. She’s more into walking but they made it in great time.
The Limerick Garda division makes annual awards to acknowledge the achievements of young people who are making a difference in their own lives and in their communities.
Limerick Gardaí present the awards in association with Garveys Supervalu, Corbally and Centra, Newcastle West.