Johnny is a close friend of the organisation and is inspired by the work that they do. Johnny has reflected on the work that the organisation has done and often reflects and wishes that he was aware of their work when he first acquired his disability.
“I always say that it would have been so beneficial to me back in 2006, as a boy who acquired a life changing injury, if I know of their existence – it would have taken the initial blow of the unknown if I could turn to an organisation such as Active Disability Ireland and to lean on and help me get back on track”.
At the age of 17 Johnny had a workplace accident that resulted in a complete spinal injury. Since then he has been fortunate with the support and mindset that he has developed to ensure that the opportunities to continue to participate in sport and physical activity are still there for him. Johnny acknowledges that the support he needed in the early years of his disability weren’t always there and understands the importance of highlighting to others what is possible.
Johnny has excelled in his sporting ambitions over the last 17 years and has gone onto establish and captain the first wheelchair basketball senior team in Kerry. From 2008-2010 he represented Ireland at the World Pool Championships in Ireland and the UK and currently is an active hand cyclist.
His first sporting passion and talent was basketball and he made a national U15 development squad before he switched sports to pull on the Irish vest at high jump. The 19-year-old from Killarney is already ranked number two in the world in his T47 event, and made his debut at the World Para-Athletics Championships which take place in Dubai in November 2019
He’s also the first to confess that he knew nothing about para-sport until 2016, when he attended the Cara National Seminar for Inclusion. Jason Smyth, the fastest Paralympian on the planet, was among the speakers and the Derry superstar encouraged Jordan to go to Paralympics Ireland’s talent ID trials.
In 2011, after playing 6 times for Irish province Leinster, McKinley was forced to retire from rugby union after losing the sight in his left eye. After his retirement, he moved to Italy to work as a coach for junior sides. However, despite the blindness in one eye, McKinley made a return to rugby in 2014 in Italy using specially manufactured goggles, firstly with Leonorso in a regional third division match, in which McKinley scored 28 points, and then with Viadana on a two-year contract in the National Championship of Excellence, which, in turn, led to him being signed by another Italian side, Zebre as Fly-half cover for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and 2016 Six Nations Championship. Shortly afterwards, McKinley was signed by Treviso ahead of the 2016–17 Pro12 season.
Since McKinley never played a game for Ireland before his first retirement, having spent three years in Italian rugby made him eligible to represent Italy on the international stage. Italy’s head coach Conor O’Shea included McKinley in his squad for the 2017 Summer Tests, but decided not to field him in any game. On 11 November 2017, however, Ian McKinley played his first international game for Italy, in an Autumn Internationals test match against Fiji, subbed in after 62 minutes for Carlo Canna. Italy won that game 19-10, with McKinley scoring the last goal kick.
Aidan O ‘Mahony, a Garda Síochána member, played for the Kerry senior football team winning 5 All-Irelands, 3 NFLs, 10 Munster Championships, 1 County Senior Championship, 1 Senior Club County Championship, 1 County U21 Championship, 1 County Intermediate Championship and 2 All Stars.
In January 2017, Aidan was the overall winner of Dancing with the Stars and during this time he came on board to support the Cara FitForAll initiative aimed at increasing awareness and access to leisure centre/fitness activities for people with disabilities.
Since his initial involvement with the FitForAll Initiative, Aidan has remained a true supporter of the work of Cara having attended and presented at the National Seminar for Inclusion in November 2017. We are delighted that Aidan has agreed to remain an ambassador for the work for Cara in advocating for increased opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sport and physical activity.
Joanne Cantwell is an Irish sports presenter. She is the presenter of weekly rugby magazine programme Against the Head on RTÉ Two, and was also a match reporter on Premier Soccer Saturday. During the summer months, Joanne works as a reporter on The Sunday Game, Raidió Teilifís Éireann’s main Gaelic games television programme. It is shown on RTÉ Two every Sunday during the Football Championship and Hurling Championship seasons.