A MATTER of weeks ago, she could only walk 200 metres.
But, inspired by her soldier dad, Ciara McGearey, who was left blind and disabled by meningitis, is in training to walk a mile to raise funds for Poppyscotland.
The 15-year-old, who lives in Redford, has been working with mum Rosie to increase her strength for the Mile for Daddy.
Her dad, Captain Mac McGearey, a soldier with 1 Royal Tank Regiment who has just returned from serving in Afghanistan, previously walked across Scotland to raise money for his daughter’s fees at the Royal Blind School after the city council said it would not pay them.
Poppyscotland supported the family during his Walk for Ciara. The army offered to pay half her fees and the council agreed to meet the rest, with the £12,700 Mr McGearey raised donated to charity.
Ciara, who was just three days old when she contracted meningitis, is still a pupil at the school.
Mrs McGearey said the idea for the fundraising walk on Sunday had come after discussions with physiotherapists there who agreed that Ciara could probably improve her walking abilities with some hard work.
Since then, she has been gradually increasing the distances she covers on regular walks with her mother, who said: “It’s gone so well, the only thing we’ve struggled with through April has been the weather, but she’s still been so determined to do it. We would probably be a lot further behind if it wasn’t for her.”
Ciara communicates using sign language, and Mrs McGearey explained that her daughter had come up with the idea of the walk herself.
She said: “I was chatting with Ciara to see how she felt about walking because it’s a lot of effort. Pain is going to be a daily part of that process and I didn’t want to do anything without knowing how she felt about it.
“We had talked about soldiers coming back who couldn’t walk and through their efforts being able to get on their feet again, and what an inspiration that is for us. That came on to daddy walking for Ciara.
“Ciara signed that she wanted to help and I thought ‘What do you mean?’ Then it suddenly struck me that what she was saying was that she wanted to help soldiers to walk. I was absolutely astonished. I repeated it back to her and said ‘Is that what you want to do?’ and she indicated ‘Yes, yes, yes’.”
On Sunday, they will head into the Pentlands for the challenge, which will take around two hours to complete.
Mrs McGearey said: “It’s great for Ciara to be able to give something back – she’s never been able to do that.”
Poppyscotland chief executive Ian McGregor said: “We were glad to support the McGearey family in their fundraising efforts in 2010. Very happily, the local authority and the Ministry of Defence successfully reached an accord which enabled Ciara to attend the Royal Blind School.
“It is heartwarming to see the progress that Ciara has made and we are humbled that she now wishes to raise funds for Poppyscotland by undertaking this remarkable challenge. Ciara is an inspiration to us all and we wish her the very best.”
To sponsor Ciara, visit www.justgiving.com/Ciara-McGearey