The next right thing to do for local man in Portlaoise

Marcin Malek

Reporter:

Marcin Malek

portlaoise laois

Jason O'Neill

Portlaoise's Jason O'Neill about his fundraising exploits and a very special upcoming event

Life is a long walk and it’s entirely up to us whether the journey will prove rewarding.

People are as unique as the stars up in the sky, no two are the same.

We often come from different places, we have different beliefs, we look at the world in a way nobody else does. Some wade ahead tirelessly focused on the ultimate objective, some exhibit excessive caution, but there are also those who in their voyage know when to lean over the troubled neighbour.

Jason O’Neill is one of Portlaoise’s extraordinary people. He has lived in the town with his wife and threee children for the past 14 years.

While living here he’s been involved with many groups such as P.A.T.H (Portlaoise Action To Homelessness), Laois Archery and Down Syndrome Centre Midlands.

He has helped to organise and run a few fundraising events for the Down Syndrome Centre Midlands as they solely rely on charity donation. The money raised are of vital importance to ensuring the continued delivery of services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, family support and life skills for all ages.

It is just one of the groups he has helped.

“I have done fundraisers for Teac Tom are Light Up Your Bike Santa Cycle on December 1 of last year raised €1,388 euro for each charity and also I wrote a book, Magic of the slieve bloom Mountains which raised €350 but am hoping to publish another book and will donated some proceeds to the centre. The next Down Syndrome Centre Midland event will be the virtual 21km in September but hopefully we will be able to do as normal if the lockdown allows,” he says.

Jason also finds time for writing

“I’ve been asked how the launch of my first ever book publish went and I am delighted to say, it was great. I was invited to read my story at the power of words festival in Abbeyleix for the kids in the community garden and it was a great turn out.

“I would definitely recommend attending the next festival when it happens. Lots of workshops to attend for both adults and kids.

“I also did a reading for Experience Laois at Hushabye Farm Alpcas. It was a great day out by Experience Laois and a great spot to visit,” he says.

A member of the Defence Forecs, Jason has been busy during the Covid-19 emergency.

“So, during the lockdown I've continued working as I am a serving member in the Irish Defence Forces in the Curragh Camp, Co Kildare. I’ve served over 17 years and have done four trips abroad in peacekeeping missions.

“While working, our section was responsible for the maintenance of all military vehicles required for transportation of troops setting up testing centres, patients that need to be transferred by ambulance, collection, and delivery of PPE. Like many cases in the military we deal with many different situations which keeps us active and each day is never the same.

“Unfortunately due to the outbreak we were unable to continue with our charity cycle due on the 22nd of May from the Curragh Camp Kildare to Renmore Barracks in Galway in aid of the Cuisle Cancer Support Centre Portlaoise but we hope to do so at a later date.

“We will now be doing a social distance fundraiser event on Saturday 27th of June for one of our comrades’ wife who is currently in treatment for cancer “Ronnie’s Relay” www.gofundme.com/f/ Ronnies-Relay.

“It will be a 24hr relay and will support the Carlow Kilkenny home care team who are specialist in palliative care,” he says.

He has used used the lockdown to get some work done at home.

“Like many others all the half jobs done over the years have now been completed. I look forward to life getting back to normal so we can meet family and friends. Have BBQ’s together and even hug loved ones. I look forward to meeting and holding my new niece who was born during lockdown and she is doing great. I also look forward to returning to Archery. It’s a great sport for all ages and fitness levels and is based here in Portlaoise,” he says.

While he has been involved in the emergency response to Covid-19, he praised those on the frontline.

“I would also like to thank all the nurses, doctors and health care assistants and anyone who helped keeping the virus under control, by putting themselves and families at risk they greatly contributed to preventing an outbreak. Together we can win this and together we grow stronger,” he says.

People like Jason have this special kind of sensitivity that some of us often lack or, we’re too afraid that something will go wrong.

He demonstrates that nothing can go wrong if you do the right thing.

Jason requests that anybody who wants to help the Down Syndrome Centre Midlands to contact 0871734767 or e-mail dscmidlands@gmail.com, or go to www.downsyndromecentre.ie/ dsc-centres/midlands/