Fiona O’Neill took part in this year's Vhi Mini Marathon to raise funds for Arthritis Ireland, we asked Fiona to share a little bit about why she signed up and how she found the experience. Read Fiona’s inspiring story below. 

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with arthritis? 

My son was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when he was five years old and over ten years later, he still manages his pain and inflammation every day. Not only has he joint and muscle pain but inflammation through rheumatoid arthritis has impacted his eyesight with uveitis. 

When did you come into contact with Arthritis Ireland? 

I first made contact with Arthritis Ireland in 2010. At that time, I thought it ridiculous that a child could be diagnosed with arthritis. I had never heard of it before. It was through my son's rheumatology team in Crumlin, the recommendation to make contact with Arthritis Ireland was made. 

What motivated you to sign up for this year's Vhi Mini Marathon? 

There were a number of reasons that motivated me. 

Arthritis Ireland is still the only dedicated charity in Ireland that funds research for adults and children living with many forms of arthritis. The funds raised through the Vhi Mini Marathon are valuable to keep these projects active. 

I worked closely with John Joyce, the Chair of the Kilkenny Branch of Arthritis Ireland before his passing during the Covid-19 pandemic. He was a phenomenal advocate for walking and staying mobile. John lived with ankylosing spondylitis and a number of other painful conditions. He had every reason in the world to choose not to move or walk. I signed up because of his teachings. If he could do it, throughout his challenges, then so can I. 

I want to lead by example for my son. I need to encourage him to stay active and walk as part of his journey in learning to manage his own disease. When I walk and stay active, we can stay active together. 

How did it go? Was it a positive experience? 

It was a fantastic morning in Kilkenny Castle Park surrounded by a brilliant group of Kilkenny Branch supporters who wore the Arthritis Ireland t-shirt with pride. 
Everyone took part at their own pace, some walked 2kms, some 5kms and those who were able to complete the 10kms. Every day is different for people living with arthritis. One-week 5km is achievable, the following week an inflammation flare-up up puts a halt on any activity. 
I was sore the next day but for 1000s of kids living with arthritis, they only dream of a pain-free day. I did the 10km of the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon because right now my son can't. 


Thank you so much to Fiona for her sharing inspiring story and for supporting our work. We are so grateful.