Zoe inspires rally

THE Flush Place car park will be a hive of activity on Friday afternoon as a team of local volunteers prepare to embark on a gumball rally to Cork.

Those taking part have modified their old bangers to look like famous cars from TV and film.

Paul Rainey, left and daughter Zoe with Scott McMillan. INLM1712-126gc

Paul Rainey, left and daughter Zoe with Scott McMillan. INLM1712-126gc

It’s all in aid of a good cause with the money raised going towards The Waddle, a charity organisation set up to raise awareness of the challenges faced by children with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.

Lurgan man Scott McMillan is a good friend of his near neighbour Paul Rainey, who lives in Dollingstown and is the founder of The Waddle. It was the story of Paul’s daughter Zoe that inspired Scott to organise the gumball rally from Lurgan to Cork.

Zoe has defied the odds to overcome the many obstacles facing her since she was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.

Since birth Zoe, who is now three, has undergone seven neurosurgeries. During the latest operation Zoe was in theatre for nine and a half hours before moving to Intensive Care. Her neck had been surgically broken in 15 places and part of the back of her skull and brain lining removed to relieve pressure on her spine.

When Zoe sleeps her brain shuts down and therefore her lungs stop working, which is why she needs a ventilator at night and oxygen during the day. Because of vocal cord paralysis she unable to eat food unless pureed smooth.

Scott said: “Zoe has overcome every hurdle that’s been put in front of her that she wasn’t expected to overcome. We wanted to set ourselves a challenge as well.

“We’ll be setting Top Gear-style challenges along the way to keep it interesting.

“There will be six cars leaving Maloney’s at 4pm on Friday and we’re hoping to get back at 7.30pm on Sunday.

“We’ll be sleeping, eating and changing in the cars. The caravan is only there as a support vehicle.

“Along the way we’ll be stopping off at a caravan park in Dublin where they are giving us six berths free of charge.”

Scott added: “The cars have to be less than £300 in value. They range from 19-year-olds to 10-year-olds. They’ve all been modified to look like famous TV and film cars.

“You’re not allowed to spend more than £50 on the cars. Local companies have sponsored cars in order to help with costs and local suppliers have helped us with food.

Scott said: “We’ve got a good core of people together and are hoping to raise in the region of £3,000 to £5,000.

“We’ll be collecting donations along the way and at Maloney’s before we start.”

Anyone wishing to donate should email scottmcmillan@live.co.uk or go to Just Giving section of The Waddle website, www.thewaddle.co.uk

Paul commented: “The Waddle is a walking and paddling challenge that was conceived on Zoe’s first birthday to mark a milestone that we as a family never thought we would have together.

“The money raised goes towards the life changing work of the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Spina Bifida Information Networking & Equality (SHINE), and the Belfast Activity Centre’s Access-Ability Project.”