John Creedon was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia at the age of six. This is a degenerative genetic neurological disease that affects the nervous system. When he was diagnosed he was told that he would never be able to be involved in sports again and that there was a very likely possibility that he would die by the time he was 25. He recently turned 52.
He is a Paralympic silver medallist and former world record holder in the club throwing event after competing in the 1984 Paralympics in New York. As well as this he has also competed in a staggering fifteen Dublin Marathons. Despite the constraints of his disability, Creedon has achieved so much in his life and it is truly inspirational to any onlooker.
“One doctor said I’d never play sports again and another said I’d be dead at 25”
When Creedon was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, it was an unknown disease. The advances in the awareness and treatment of the disease have grown greatly over the last 25 years. Yet at the time, Creedon’s willingness to live the best life he could, despite what he was told, is something to be truly admired.
Naturally, in the early stages of the diagnosis it was a very stressful time not only for himself but for his family as a whole. ‘Mum and dad were shocked and at that time because they didn’t know what the outcome would be.’ It was an extremely unusual thing to be diagnosed with as both parents needed to be carriers of the Ataxia gene for this disease to form.
Yet despite constant support from family, community and the Ataxia Ireland, there are still constant struggles to support Mr Creedon, and the disabled community. In the budget of 2011, disability benefit for people from the ages of 18 to 21 years old was cut from €188 to €100 a week, as well as this people from the ages of 22 to 25 had their benefit reduced from €188 to €144 a week.
Although this law was rethought due to severe protests from the public, the shear outrageousness of the proposal in the first place calls into question the government’s priorities due to the fact that it seems that the disabled are being punished for the government’s misfortune.
John Creedon is a man that competed in fifteen marathons and is a former world record holder. He achieve these goals through hard work and endeavour and for all his achievements still kept his family values close to him. “When you are asked for an autograph by a stranger you feel 10 feet tall, but it was the calls and the telegrams I got in the Paralympics in 1984, they meant the most.”
He is someone that has had more than his fair share of doubters but through hard work and effort he achieved something others can only dream about. “The best feeling was proving the doctors wrong.”