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"Make-A-Wish took my daughter's mind off her Leukaemia treatment"

Amelia and Ashley have both had the trip of a lifetime thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Aug 27th 2014, 7:00 AM 5,975 9

Source: Gordon MRM Video Channel/YouTube

WHEN YOU MEET Amelia Deane from Meath and Ashleigh Kiernan from Lucan, the first thing you’re struck by is their energy.

At 10 and 11 years old respectively, they’re outgoing, friendly, and quite mature for their age.

But their sunny exteriors don’t show that they’ve been through an experience that parents would dread seeing their child have to tackle – being diagnosed with childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

More than three years on since their diagnoses, they’ve been through tough times but are clearly facing life with a positive attitude.

Along the way, they benefitted from a wish being granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Their wishes

MakeAWishAnnualReport1 Source: Shane O'Neill Fennell Photograph

For Amelia, it was to meet Cake Boss from the popular TV series of the same name (she even got to bake a cake with him), while for Ashleigh it was to swim with dolphins.

Amelia said that during her day with Cake Boss, she didn’t think of her illness.

What would they say to people about Make-A-Wish? “Just donate ‘cos it’s for a good cause,” said Amelia. The two girls met in hospital in Crumlin.

Was the Make-A-Wish trip one of the best days of their life? “It was the best,” they nod. “It was like the best holiday in the world,” said Amelia.

“It’s a long road”

MakeAWishAnnualReport7 Source: Shane O'Neill Fennell Photograph

With the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Ireland saying it has experienced a drop in donations, which it believes is due to a drop in trust in Irish charities, the two young girls and their families spoke out about the importance of the charity’s work.

Glenn Kiernan, Ashleigh’s father, told TheJournal.ie:

Ashleigh was seven when she was diagnosed in 2010. So, it’s a long road. They’re still both attending hospital. The treatment is about two and a half years. Ashleigh’s only 16, 17 months in remission, which is a word that I don’t like using, especially with a child. We’re going in the right direction – we still have another three or four years of check-ups with the hospital.

He described the wish as “fantastic”. “When you first make contact with Make-A-Wish, you have the anticipation,” he said. “For Ashleigh it just took her mind off everything, when she was told that the Make-A-Wish was coming out to meet her.”

After they left, she “had the excitement of saying ‘will I get my chance?’”, recalled her dad.

It was another year before we went, but what it meant for Ashleigh was… it was just pure excitement. It took her mind off everything else – no money can pay for that. It’s something that as a father, you can’t even give her.

The week they went away as a family “you couldn’t replace or buy”, he said, adding he is hugely thankful to Make-A-Wish.

Ashleigh was diagnosed with ALL five weeks after being brought to the doctor by her concerned parents. “You don’t get a chance to take it in, even when you’re told,” recalled her dad.

They told her she had “bugs in her blood” to help her understand why she needed treatment. “The nurses and the doctors are going to try and get the bugs out of her blood,” they assured her.

Drop in donations

MakeAWishAnnualReport5 Amelia Deane and Ashleigh Kiernan Source: Shane O'Neill Fennell Photograph

Asked what he makes of the drop in donations to charities like Make-A-Wish, he described it as “very saddening”.

When you see people making that sort of effort and giving up their own family and personal time for the kids, it can’t but touch you. We do whatever we can to help them in whatever way we can.

Does he have a message for people thinking about donating?

“Supporting all charities, please, yes. If you do have a spare €5 to give, you can’t do better than give it to Make-A-Wish. To see the difference it makes to an ill child, no money can give you that.”

Read: ‘Drop in donations means we can’t grant as many kids’ wishes’>

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Aoife Barry

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