NEXT month Amie McClean is walking from Ballymena to the SSE Arena in Belfast - to raise funds to help buy an £18,000 all-terrain wheelchair for her little brother!
Twelve-year-old Ethan suffers from the terminal illness, Duchenne Muscular Dystropyy, an incredibly rare disease which affects mainly young boys.
There is no treatment or cure and the vast majority of sufferers do not live into their 20s.
Ethan is a big Belfast Giants fan and before covid was a regular spectator at the venue.
His sister Amie (22) points out the sponsored walk on May 15 is the biggest fund raising challenge she has undertaken.
“I am going to walk from my home in Ballymena to the SSE arena in Belfast, which is around 27 miles. My brother is a huge ice hockey fan and before COVID he loved going every week to see the Belfast Giants in the Arena in Belfast,” she said.
“My brother absolutely loves ice hockey he's been all over America visiting teams and meeting his idol Sidney Crosby.”
Amie outlined that over the last 12 months Ethan has lost the majority of his mobility in the lower half of his body whilst shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Due to this it means his only option of doing normal things like a walk on the beach or going on the forest trails requires his manual wheelchair where myself, my mum or dad have to push him,” she said.
“For Ethan who, this year, enters his teenager years, this loss of independence leaves him feeling like a burden on us. I want to change this for him and purchase him an all-terrain wheelchair. This chair will allow him to independently join his friends and family on walks without feeling like a burden on anyone.”
Amie said a new chair will also allow Ethan to go where he wants, when he wants - “Like to the beaches, or the forests, and other locations you and I take for granted where a standard NHS powered wheelchair cannot access,” said Amie.
“It will even allow him to be more independent in everyday life as it will allow him go up and down curbs, along gravel paths and even over grass areas without anyone having to help him.”
Meanwhhile, neighbour Catriona Harkin has nothing but the utmost praise for Aime’s family.
“The family are truly some of the most amazing people I have ever known,” outlined Catriona.
“Over the years they have been tireless in their fund raising efforts for Muscular Dystrophy charities. Last May Amie walked a marathon round her garden and the family, including Ethan in his chair, completed the virtual London Marathon round the ECOS in the lashing rain.”
Catriona continued - “They have raised thousands of pounds for charity and never ask for anything in return.”
Due to Ethan's illness the McClean’s are no longer able to take him out and about to the beach or anywhere a standard manual wheelchair can't access.
“This has been devastating for them as they have devoted their lives to ensuring that whatever time Ethan has is filled with joy and experiences,” said Catriona.
“The family continue to do everything they can to make sure Ethan’s life is as full and enjoyable as it possibly can be,” said Catriona. “This family honestly encapsulates all that is good in the world and with a little help from the Ballymena community they will hopefully be able to continue to make Ethan’s life as rich and fun filled as possible.”
* Team McClean is made up of Mum Yvette, Dad Andy, Ethan’s sister Amie and the main superhero himself Ethan, and those who held raffles for the cause.
If you would like to get in contact you can reach Amie on 07730349161. The link to the Go Fund Me page is: https://