Brave Sharn's iron will inspires Waniora students

Waniora Public students show their support for Sharn McNeill, who is battling motor neurone disease. Pictures: KIRK GILMOUR

Waniora Public students show their support for Sharn McNeill, who is battling motor neurone disease. Pictures: KIRK GILMOUR

Living next door to Waniora Public School, Sharn McNeill is used to hearing the students sing at assembly, but on Friday they sang for her.

The students have been inspired by Ms McNeill's courage and determination which saw her complete the Cairns ironman event last month despite battling motor neurone disease.

The 31-year-old was assisted by her good friend paramedic Craig Gruber, who pulled her kayak through the 3.8-kilometre swim leg; pushed her wheelchair on the 42.2-kilometre run and attached her cycle to his on the 180-kilometre cycle.

Ms McNeill's story inspired Waniora students to raise funds for her Shining 4 Sharn foundation to support research into the debilitating neurological disease and they presented her with a cheque at Friday's assembly.

Waniora Public School principal Robyn Rankin with Sharn McNeill and student Eden Rout.

Waniora Public School principal Robyn Rankin with Sharn McNeill and student Eden Rout.

Ms McNeill, meanwhile, gave the students a lesson in bravery.

"You may have seen I'm in a wheelchair and might talk a little bit funny but I got a little bit sick in my brain," she told them.

"You enjoy running around the playground and using all your muscles, but my muscles got a bit sick too and I can't run around any more. But that didn't stop me realising my dream.

"... So whatever your dream is - whether it be big or small - don't ever give up as you can achieve anything with your strong will and your friends around you. You can make your dreams shine."

Year 6 student Eden Rout said many of the students had seen Ms McNeill's story in the media, and had been motivated to help.

"She is really inspiring and so determined and courageous," Eden said.

Ms McNeill was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of motor neurone disease last July and her mobility and speech has slowly deteriorated.

She achieved her ironman goal but her dreams of motherhood have been shattered, which was why the students' actions meant so much to her.

"I feel so blessed to be neighbours with a school like this and to feel like part of the school community is so humbling," she said.

School principal Robyn Rankin said she was proud of the students who wore pink wigs or accessories on Friday, like the pink wigs worn by Ms McNeill's supporters - Sharnie's Army - at the ironman event.

"I am very proud of the initiative and empathy shown by the students who, in a small way, are contributing to a great cause," Ms Rankin said.

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