A COUNTY Clare girl has been honoured for her courage and willingness to help other. Elysha Ní Chuláin, a fifth-year student at Coláiste Íde in Dingle, Kerry has been crowned the 2014 All Ireland Youth Volunteer of the Year.
The Bunratty teenager and Dayna Ní Shíocháin, a student at Gaelcholáiste Mhuire, North Monastery, County Cork, were launded at the eighth annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, presented by Republic of Ireland football manager, Martin O’Neill.
Sixteen-year-old, Elysha was honoured for her volunteering activities with Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin and Barretstown Camp in Kildare.
At five, Elysha was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was hospitalised in Crumlin for 10 years. While there, she underwent chemotherapy and several surgeries, which have left her with permanent kidney damage and blind in one eye.
“When I was eight, my tired body gave up. I had a massive heart attack and was on life support. It took a long time, but I am here today. I am healthy. I am strong. Our Lady’s Hospital did not give up on me.”
Elysha participated in the Crumlin Heroes Project in 2011. In September 2012, she became the champion of the Kellogg’s Funraise4Kids campaign for Crumlin, which was aimed at secondary school students nationwide.
“I always say Crumlin cured my cancer while Barretstown cured my hidden scars left behind. I view both as equally important parts of the ‘beat cancer’ treatment. They saved my life. I owe them everything. I love them both. They are part of who I am today,” said Elysha.
In presenting the awards, Martin O’Neill said, “We need to celebrate our young people today to inspire them into being leaders of tomorrow. We salute the 20 finalists in this programme who are helping those in need.”
Caroline Faulkner, senior managing director and CIO of Pramerica Systems Ireland Limited, said,“Congratulations to all our finalists and, of course, to our overall winners Dayna and Elysha – their stories are remarkable.”
The two overall winners each received €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion and an all-expense paid trip to the United States in May to participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.
The awards are held in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland.