The heartbroken family of a Dublin man in the US who is dying of cancer, have raised over €80,000 in two days after they had cancelled their medical cover to pay towards a college fund.
Ronan Winter, originally from Dublin and a former student of Blackrock College, was diagnosed six months ago with stage four esophageal cancer.
The business consultant who left Ireland in 1989, now lives in California with his American wife Diane and two daughters Keelan, 15, and 11-year-old Keara.
Just months before his diagnosis, believing he was heatlhy, the business consultant decided to cancel the life insurance policy he had been paying into for 15 years and to concentrate on bolstering a college fund for his two teenage daughters.
He received his diagnosis on 23rd December last and within weeks the cancer had spread to his lungs, his spine, his liver and his arms. Two months after the cancer diagnosis he suffered a stroke that left him unable to eat or talk.
His niece Courtney Russell began an online fundraising campaign two days ago to help the family with the mounting medical bills, explaining: "The girls' college funds are drained, their savings gone. Uncle Ronan was the breadwinner”
The aim was to raise €100,000, and so far over $81,000 (€58,000) has been donated, with the amount increasing on the hour.
Paying tribute to her uncle on gofundme, Courtney wrote:
“Originally from Ireland, my uncle moved to the States, gained citizenship and eventually married my aunt. Even after all these years, he's still got the cool accent. He has an insatiable zest for life, he wanted to see the world and he wanted to see it with his family by his side.”
Posting photos of her uncle before and after his diagnosis, she tells of his dedication to his two girls.
“He lives for them. His ultimate goal is to see them go off to the colleges of their dreams and be all they can ever possibly want to be. His children and his wife are two of the most important things in his life. He would go to the ends of the earth for them.”
Telling the story of her uncle's battle with the disease, that has reduced him to a shadow of himself, she explains that doctors have said there is nothing more they can do for Ronan.
“Because of his stroke, paired with where the tumors were located, he began to eat less and less. He began to whither away,” she writes.
Ronan is now too weak for a feeding tube, surgery is too invasive and he currently receives around the clock hospice care.
“His girls get to watch him slowly whither into nothing. He cannot speak, he hardly eats, and he sleeps most of the day. It's absolutely devastating.”
His wife Diane has been his primary carer at home and is faced with paying for mounting medical expenses as well as mortgage and household bills.
According to Courtney, she has been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, and didn't expect the crowdfunding effort to reach beyond her friends and family.