Members of the Donegal Credit Union and, volunteers and members of the St Agnes Day Centre at the presentation of the new all purpose bus in honour of the much loved Grace Gilliland
A young Donegal woman who captured the imagination of many people throughout Ireland and indeed provided so much inspiration has been remembered at a presentation.
Grace Gilliland from Bundoran was diagnosed many years ago with Rett syndrome and lived with the condition for practically all of her life in the comfort of her own home with the loving attention of her parents Olga and Neil.
Olga and Neil organised many fundraising activities over the years not alone for their daughter but for Rett syndrome and for the St Agnes Day Centre in Donegal town where Grace was a regular day user.
Olga said: “St Agnes Day Centre is an absolutely vital centre for all the parents with children who suffer from various conditions and challenges - they were not short in kindness or care but they lacked one vital facility - transport for the users.
“Along with some very good friends in Bundoran and the support of both Cara Pharmacy and the Donegal Democrat we embarked on a crusade to raise €50K plus to purchase a custom-made coach.
“To be honest we thought it was going to be an impossible task but everybody came on board and with the help of the Donegal Town Credit Union the dream became a reality.
Olga continued: “Two years ago we decided that we would enter the well-known the Cara 10 mile Challenge in Bundoran as a fundraiser. We decided to push Grace along the challenging 10-mile course and I can tell you it was a bit of a task but we all enjoyed every minute of it.
“We had raised our own sponsorship but then Canice and Ramona Nicholas nominated us as one of their nominated charities which provided an additional bonus of €5k.
“Grace made the front page of the Democrat crossing the line with the heading “Amazing Grace” and from there it all blossomed.
“Grace may never ride in this coach but she will always be remembered by the dozens of users who will be using it on a regular basis.”
In her life Grace had never been put in residential care - the only people allowed to look after her were Neil's parent's and Olga's mum.
Though Grace passed away earlier this year evoking widespread sadness in the area, Olga, talking about her love of Grace said:”I wouldn't change a thing. I have met so many good and wonderful people because of her.
“She ended up quite a celebrity in Bundoran and beyond with so many well-known people coming to visit her - Westlife, many of the Donegal and even Dublin footballers. If they were passing through Bundoran at all they just called in to see her.
“She may not have been able to speak but she communicated with everybody through her smile and sparkling eyes. She will live on with us forever.”