Katie’s Quest: Support mounts to help Galway’s O’Halloran

Jordan Frias, Special to the Reporter
Mar. 27, 2014

Katie O'HalloranKatie O'HalloranA correction has been appended to the article.

“They say the closest city to Galway is Boston,” said Rosario Sullivan of Ireland.

Sullivan was present at Mayor Marty Walsh’s Community Luncheon in West Roxbury at the Irish Social Club of Boston on Saturday, passing out fliers and talking to guests about her friend Katie O’ Halloran.

Sullivan has been in Boston for almost two weeks to help spread the word about the Katie O’Halloran Benefit that will be held here in Boston.

O’Halloran was born with Femur Fibula Ulna Syndrome which has left her with no arms and a short deformed right leg. She is currently getting her Master’s Degree in Public Law at the National University of Ireland and works for the law firm McDermott and Allen in Galway City.

Sullivan is one of many people who are trying to get O’Halloran Bebionic3 prosthetic arms through fundraisers and benefits. One will be held at the IBEW Hall on April 19 at 7 p.m. on Freeport Street in Dorchester.

“She’s so proactive and so inspirational. These arms will allow her to maintain her independence and flexibility,” Sullivan said.

O’Halloran is currently able to write and type using her feet, but is worried that she won’t be able to do so as she gets older. She was able to learn about the Bebionic3 prosthetics while doing research at her University.

Sullivan, who went to school with O’Halloran’s mom Catherine, said that O’Halloran needs $400,000 to pay for her procedure, including the Bebonic3 arms and the physiotherapy and occupational therapy before, after, and during the procedure.

A 14 person committee has been formed to help her pay for the prosthetics. Gabriel Mannion, owner of Twelve Ben’s Irish Pub on Adams Street, led the charge and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh serves as the honorary chairman. The “Katie Born to Run” committee has already raised $30,000 for O’Halloran and is looking to collect the last $10,000 in Boston.

“We are at the end of the road, not the beginning [in fundraising],” Sullivan said.

O’Halloran is also being sponsored by neighbor and Carna Bay Hotel owner Michael Cloherty from Galway. He is getting sponsors for her as he runs in three marathons: the Connemara Marthon in Ireland, the London City Marathon in England, and the Boston Marathon on April 21.
O’Halloran will be arriving in Boston on April 16 and is planning to attend the Boston Marathon with her family. This will be O’Halloran’s second time in the country since 2006 when she competed in the New York Games for the Physically Challenged.

Sullivan said O’Halloran is looking forward to coming to Boston and is overwhelmed by the support she has received.

“People are very eager to help. They seem genuinely interested in the benefit and they seem committed to helping on their own, she said.
Sullivan is hoping that the IBEW Hall will be packed on the night of the benefit. She is looking to share O’Halloran’s story with anyone who is willing to listen in the meantime.

“Katie wasn’t supposed to walk, she wasn’t supposed to succeed,” Sullivan said. “We are hoping to get the Irish community to reach out as they have before.”

Sullivan is also hoping to get non-Irish people interested in the cause, hoping that people who don’t have limbs can also identify with O’Halloran.

“This is a grassroots effort. It’s about family, it’s about heritage and culture. It’s this unbreakable connection between Ireland and the US … another example of Boston strong,” she said.

CORRECTION: The "Katie Born to Run" committee has raised $300,000, not $3,000. The committee is looking to collect $100,000 in Boston, not $1,000. Michael Cloherty's hotel is called Carna Bay Hotel. Updated at 4:03 p.m. March 28, 2014.