A group of Midleton firefighters is training to climb Ireland’s highest mountain in full firefighter gear for a great local cause.
Three firefighters, David Owers, David Hourigan, and John O’Flynn, are raising money for Alana Reid Sochan, who has Butterfly syndrome.
Alana was born with the rare condition, officially known as epidermolysis bullosa, which manifests itself through severely delicate skin. The condition often requires heavy medication such as morphine to ease the physical pain.
Speaking to The Echo, firefighter David Owers explained how the fundraiser came about.
“My partner Colleen works with Alana’s auntie and she shared a video of what Alana goes through on a daily basis. I have a child of a similar age and I wanted to do something to help.
“Colleen said she would take part in the annual fundraiser that takes place at Carrauntoohil every year, and then I said I would do it in full firefighter gear.”
When David went into work and told the crew what he planned to do, six others wanted to get involved, but due to holidays, only three were able to sign up to the dates.
David said he is normally very lazy, but one of the lads is very vigilant about training and has them heading up mountains every second weekend to get the legs used to the hardship.
“It will be tough on the day, but it is nothing compared to what Alana goes through on a daily basis,” David said.
Speaking to The Echo, Alana’s mother Rachel said the gesture was crazy and incredible.
“Fair play to them, I don’t know how they are going to do it!”
Rachel said the hardest thing is not bandaging Alana every day, but the constant worry that something will happen to set Alana back.
“We are constantly on edge, she could be playing and one fall would change her week entirely.”
Rachel said Alana, who is six years old, is now able to explain to other kids that they need to be careful with her because of her condition.
“It’s great, but also heartbreaking,” Rachel said.
Alana has a support dog, a Golden Doodle called Lola.
“Lola is Alana’s best friend since we got her 10 months ago, it has changed her life entirely. She doesn’t get as lonely and Lola is brilliant with her.”
Every year around 100 people walk up Carrauntoohil to help fundraise for Alana and this year’s event is on September 3.
To donate to the firefighters fundraiser log onto gofundme and search ‘Climb for Alana’.