Video: A Christmas wish came true for brave teen who has spent his life battling illness

Video: A Christmas wish came true for brave teen who has spent his life battling illness
Cathal O'Neill, who features in the Evening Echo Christmas wish series. The 14-year-old's wish was to present his own radio programme. Kieran Hurley of UCC Radio has organised this for him. He presented his own hour-long radio show with guests and his own playlist. Pic; Larry Cummins

A CORK teen who has spent his life battling illness was given his own radio show as part of an initiative rewarding deserving kids and teens.

Inspirational Cathal O’Neill, who was born with Spina Bifida and is a wheelchair user, has made no secret in the past of his ambitions to become a radio star.

When the head of UCC Radio, Kieran Hurley, offered the youngster an hour-long slot at the radio station, he jumped at the chance.

Cathal is among those featured in the Evening Echo Christmas Wish List series which helps deserving children achieve their dreams.

The teenager from Cathedral Road has been astounding his parents since he was just a baby. His big break comes 15 years after mum Pauline was told that he would not live to see his first birthday.

However, his strength and determination know no bounds and he continues to defy the odds in every aspect of life.

Cathal said he wasn’t nervous before presenting the show on UCC 98.3FM which featured an exclusive interview with the man of the moment, Santa Claus and Nick Walshe, who appears as an extra in the Christmas special of this year’s Young Offenders.

“I really feel like this is something I should be doing when I’m older,” he told the Evening Echo following his first live show.

Cathal O'Neill presenting his own radio programme.
Cathal O'Neill presenting his own radio programme.

The up and coming radio personality spent the days leading up to his show compiling a playlist that incorporated his own loves and personality.

“I’ve always loved music,” he said. “I particularly loved Singing along to This is Me from the movie The Greatest Showman.”

Cathal had no shortage of listeners for the show. His class at Our Lady of the Divine Child tuned in during school time for his radio debut. He admits that his biggest challenge was holding his own with Santa.

“I liked the Santa thing,” he said. “It was a big surprise. I didn’t know what to say at first but I managed to get out a few sentences.”

He hopes his radio debut will spread a positive message to other young people with disabilities.

“My message to people like me would be to have fun and be strong.”

Cathal still has one more item on his bucket list.

“I’d love to make an appearance on the Young Offenders,” he said. “My sister Ciara’s boyfriend acted in it. His name is Ronan Burke and he played a character called Seanie.”

He already has a number of strings to his bow including a You-Tube channel reviewing toys called The Cathal O’Neill show.

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