Millstreet’s Joanne O’Riordan, the inspirational 16 year old, has made a big impact over recent years despite her disability, and has now received a Cork Person of the Month award to mark her bravery and determination.
Joanne, who wowed the UN when she spoke at a conference in New York last April, recently had to undergo further surgery to allow her organs to develop properly. As well as suffering from Amelia, she also suffers from curvature of the spine and had a small steel rod inserted to support her spine.
Joanne O’Riordan, born without arms or legs, one of seven people in the world with Total Amelia Syndrome, but she lives up to her twitter name “No Limbs, No Limits”. She again captured media attention last December following the budget, which proposed that teenagers with disabilities would have to claim disability allowance at the age of 18 rather than 16. The Government quickly backtracked after Joanne wrote an open letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, reminding him that he had personally guaranteed her that there would be no cuts to disability benefit while on the campaign trail in Millstreet earlier last year.
Ryan Tubridy said she was the most impressive guest he had on the Late Late since he took over the show.
Joanne O’Riordan told the Girls in Technology Conference at the United Nations “I want to live an independent life just like you. Build me a robot that would become my hands and legs….that would make it easier for me….and others in a similar situation….I’m asking the girls in technology who are here today and who are the leading women within their field to start doing what I do, in my life ‘think outside the box’”. She received a standing ovation and already representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Apple and others have been in touch to discuss robotics and computer software for people with disabilities.
Joanne was nominated for her Cork Person of the Month by Brian Crowley MEP and her cousin Denise O’Donoghue. Her name now goes forward with other monthly winners for possible selection as the Cork Person of the Year, in the presence of President Michael D Higgins, on January 18th next at a Gala Awards Lunch, before an invited audience of 250 people. Joanne’s brother Stephen, is currently producing a documentary about his sister, and a number of T.V. channels at home and abroad have shown interest in screening it sometime next year.
Pic., by Tony O’Connell Photography.
Further information available from Awards Organiser Manus O’Callaghan 086-2526476 or firstname.lastname@example.org