A YOUNG Limerick family who has been struck by the tragedy of motor neurone disease are set to benefit from an online appeal to restore a 300-year-old house.
Jer Spillane (39) was diagnosed with the incurable disease last November and already he has lost the use of his hands and arms.
Married to Jackie, they have two children, Noah (7) and Faye (4) and with carpenter Jer now out of work and Jackie facing the prospect of giving up her SNA job in a school to be his carer, the family is facing financial ruin.
Jackie is originally from Kilbehenny in County Limerick and the couple are trying to restore an old family farmhouse there in preparation for Jer’s inevitable deterioration
Close family friend, Jennifer O’Sullivan told the Limerick Post why she and others have started a ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign.
“The family has been renting a house for the last ten years but there is no downstairs bathroom and the doors are not wide enough for a wheelchair, which Jer is going to need sooner or later.
“There is no question but he will be in a chair but we’re hoping that it will not be before they can do up the Kilbehenny house to cater for his needs.
“There’s no heating system in the house. It’s 300 years old and it’s not suitable for a wheelchair but it is a place they can call home.
“The cost of doing it up to a standard that is suitable for someone in a wheelchair has been estimated at €150,000. They don’t have money and they can’t get any kind of loan or mortgage because Jer now has no income and Jackie will have to give up her job in time,” Jennifer explained.
Nor can the family avail of any of the disability grants for renovations as they would have to have owned the house for a year.
The family has already endured huge bereavements, losing three of their parents and Jer’s only sister who died in a drowning tragedy.
“They are such a lovely close family who have suffered so much already. This is heartbreaking. They’re devoted to each other and their children,” said Jennifer.
“This disease shouldn’t happen to anyone and certainly not to such lovely people”.
In the first three days of the campaign, almost €18,000 was raised from generous donors.
“We’ve been blown away by the response and we’re so moved by people’s generosity. But every euro counts and we have a long way to go. This is a heartfelt plea to give them a home where Jer can make the best of his life with his family.”