herald

Monday 5 December 2016

'I'd love to see my son in Special Olympics' - Dubs icon O'Leary

John O'Leary
John O'Leary

GAA legend John O'Leary had some great days for Dublin - and now he hopes his son might one day pursue his own sporting dream in the Special Olympics.

Six-year-old Tom O'Leary was born with a rare chromosomal disorder that leaves him in need of constant care and with numerous health and developmental issues.

His family feared that he might never be able to walk - but now Tom is racing around the family home with his older brother Jack.

"Honestly, there were days when we thought it [walking] would never happen. I've had to step in a few times because of the horse play, but that just means we get to treat Tom like every other kid," he said.

"Sure, he'll hardly play for Dublin but I'd love if he was able to compete at the Special Olympics when he is older."

Tom O'Leary (5) with his brother Jack (7) from Dublin
Tom O'Leary (5) with his brother Jack (7) from Dublin

The All-Ireland winner told the Herald that Tom started walking for the first time with the aid of parallel bars about two years ago.

"He's really come along from the early days of just lying on the ground because of his lack of muscle tone.

"Now there's only two places he wants to be in our house - and that's heading out the front or back door," he said.

Incredible

The former goalkeeper said he could never thank the Jack and Jill Foundation enough for the help they provided during Tom's early years.

John was delighted that golfer Rory McIlroy had given €317,000 to the charity, along with €634,000 to Barretstown and the LauraLynn Children's Hospice, and said the donation was "an incredible act".

"It's an unbelievable windfall. You spend an awful lot of time doing cake sales and charity runs to raise that kind of money," he said.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News