Sheila and Des Cleary with their children Pearse and Aoife
A Tipperary family who stayed in the Ronald McDonald House near Crumlin while their teenage son underwent treatment for leukemia have urged the public to support the charity after it emerged the service faces a €500,000 shortfall in fundraising due to Covid-19.
Sheila and Des Cleary had their world turned upside down in the summer of 2018 when their son Pearse received a shock cancer diagnosis.
The family, who live near the village of Silvermines, faced multiple trips to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital while Pearse received cancer treatment which lasted four weeks at a time.
“The Ronald McDonald House was simply marvellous to us. They were a lifesaver and I don’t know how we would have done it without them,” Sheila tells the Tipperary Star.
The house, which is on the hospital campus, has hosted more than 4,000 families since opening its doors in 2004. It provides a home-away-from-home for 20 families whose children are undergoing treatment in the hospital.
“Initially we would have to stay up in Crumlin for four weeks but now we only need to go every 12 weeks for checkups as Pearse responded brilliantly to the treatment,” says Sheila who heard about the house through a fellow parent whose child was also in the hospital.
“Pearse’s twin sister, Aoife had also found this journey very hard as we would have to spend four weeks at a time in the hospital. Thankfully, the house could accommodate us all, which meant that Aoife was close to us throughout.”
“It’s a long day in the hospital so it was lovely to come back to the house and have a cooked meal made for us by the amazing volunteers. The house also supplies a car park which is an added bonus; all these small things matter.”
“Our family has been so thankful for the house as it meant that we could stay all together. We are coming to the end of our stay in Crumlin but we can’t thank the Ronald McDonald House enough. It has helped our family so much through this difficult year,” she says.
With hotels and other residential services closed due to Covid-19, the services of the Ronald McDonald House are now more important than ever before, helping to ease the burdens on families of sick children who rely on accommodation close to the hospital.
As hospitals have had to restrict visits to one parent, the House has provided a haven for families between visits. This service has also been a vital support for families of children with long-term illnesses who cannot rely on the support network of extended family throughout the Covid crisis.
However, like many other charities, the RMHC is experiencing unprecedented fundraising challenges and anticipates a €500,000 deficit for the year with several events having had to be cancelled, including the annual ball, cycle and donations through McDonalds outlets.
Support is urgently needed to ensure that the charity can continue to provide accommodation to these families in their time of need.
To support families of sick children in hospital, text HOUSE to 50300 to donate €4. Alternatively send a "hug" or Barróg to someone you care about for €10.
The Barróg is a soft, huggable bunny rabbit that can be sent as a gift, providing vital funds for the Ronald McDonald House.