Colin Farrell supports ‘brave’ friend with rare skin disease in charity bid

The actor cycled 36km in support of Emma Fogarty, who crossed the finish line following a month-long assisted charity walk on Thursday.

Emma Fogarty
Emma Fogarty

Hollywood star Colin Farrell supported an Irish woman with a rare skin disease as she completed a gruelling charity challenge on Thursday.

Farrell helped Emma Fogarty, from Abbeyleix in Co Laois, complete a 36km (22 miles) assisted walk to mark her 36th birthday by completing the same distance on an exercise bike.

Emma celebrated the achievement by crossing the finish line following an incredibly painful month-long assisted walk.

Ms Fogarty was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), also known as butterfly skin – a disorder that causes the skin layers and internal body linings to blister and wound at the slightest touch.

At present, 80% of her body is covered in open wounds, which are bandaged every second day. Following a health setback last year, she now uses a wheelchair.

Emma Fogarty
Emma Fogarty, front, at the finish line (Michael Scully/PA)

As she was greeted by a large crowd in Abbeyleix, across the Atlantic, Farrell completed the same distance to support Emma whom he has known for a decade.

Irish rugby star Johnny Sexton will also get on his bike on Saturday and cover the distance to back Emma in her bid.

So far, her challenge has raised over 68,000 euro (£61,488) for Debra Ireland, a charity that supports people with EB, and she is aiming to bring the total to 72,000 euro (£65,106).

In a video recorded prior to his 36km cycle, Farrell said he was doing it to signify the completion of Emma’s challenge, which he described as “an unimaginable achievement with the amount of pain that it would have cost her”.

“It has been an enormous display of heart and bravery, two things of which Emma has in no short supply,” he said.

As he faced into the challenge, he admitted that he was not as fit as he used to be, but hoped that because of the time difference between LA, where he is based, and Abbeyleix, he would be crossing the line with her.

Debra Ireland provides patient support services and drives research into treatments and cures for people with the condition.

“The pain I endure, all the time, whether I’m sitting in a chair or lying in bed, is considerable, and I am on a huge amount of medication,” Ms Fogarty said.

“But I’m not going to let that beat me. For people with EB, 36 is old and to get to this age is a privilege that is denied to many.

“I had a hard year. I had life-changing surgery and I will never take a step again, so the amazing Georgina Herlihy, my assistant, has pushed me all the way.

“My test isn’t the endurance test, it is to see if I can endure the ramps, the bumps, the potholes – even a pebble on the road.

“Debra Ireland is an amazing charity. I am so lucky to have them, because without them we wouldn’t be able to get nurses or research funding resources, and they deserve all the help they can get.”

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