Ray D'Arcy in Laois to walk with Debra Ireland hero Emma Fogarty

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Ray D'Arcy in Laois to walk with Debra Ireland hero Emma Fogarty

Emma Fogarty with RTÉ presenter Ray D'Arcy in Abbeyleix

RTÉ presenter Ray D'Arcy paid a special visit to Laois on Thursday evening to meet heroic lady Emma Fogarty.

Abbeyleix woman Emma suffers from Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) and is the patient ambassador for the charity Debra Ireland. Last November she had to have her foot amputated after developing aggressive skin cancer, a common complication from the painful genetic skin disease, and is now wheelchair bound.

She is now well into a tough challenge she set herself this June to fundraise for Debra Ireland. 

Emma and her personal care assistant Georgina Herlihy from Portlaoise are walking a total of 36km, a few kilometers at a time, to mark Emma's 36th birthday on June 25. Emma is the oldest living person in Ireland with EB.

The spirited and positive lady set herself a target to raise €3,600 but the fund has already surpassed €48,000.

She told the Leinster Express how she is doing.

"I have done 26km out of 36 and it's going really well. At the start it was hard, we did two 6km walks but now we are doing shorter walks," she said.

The pain from her condition is constant.

"I have good days and bad. I was in St James's for a full skin review on Tuesday and they said my skin is relatively well, they expected worse for the amount of walking we are doing. I am always in a lot of pain, whether in bed or the chair, it doesn't matter. One of the best pain killers is distraction, be it music, talking to Georgina or walking. Just lying in bed is when you really focus on the pain," she said.

She is thrilled at the level of support, with people literally running after them to hand over money as they do their walks. 

"Oh my god there are no words to describe the support I'm getting, from people I know to people I will never meet, from as far as New York, it's just been amazing, I am blown away," she said.

Below: Emma with her sister Catherine and parents Malachy and Patricia ready for her walk with Ray D'Arcy in Abbeyleix.

Ray told the Leinster why he came down to meet Emma.

"I first met Emma at the People of the Year awards, I was just amazed and astounded by her. This person could be forgiven for staying at home and pulling the curtains, such is how tough her life is. But she is out there and she has this spirit that you can't stop. When she wants to do something she does it. We've been chatting to each other on and off for years and annually I used to do the Debra Ireland half marathon in the Wicklow mountains. We got in touch about this and I said I'd come down," he said.

"I meet an awful lot of people in my line of work, amazing inspirational people and if I was to give you a top three of the people I've met in my career, Emma would be up there. The power of her story and the power of her personality," he said.

Her challenge is a huge achievement he said.

"Like Johnny Sexton says, going 36km over a number of days would seem like nothing to most people but when you hear Emma's story and realise the torturous pain she has to go through to achieve that, you understand what a gigantic enormous Everest like challenge it is for her," he said.

Listen to the Ray D'Arcy show today on RTÉ Radio 1 at 3pm for his interview with Emma at her home with parents Malachy and Patricia and sister Catherine.

Donate to Emma's fundraiser here.

Below: Emma with her PA and friend Georgina Herlihy.