Wednesday 21 February 2018

A peek into Barretstown: 'The doctor will fix their bodies, but here they'll fix their spirits'

Adam Cullen

Adam Cullen

Children's charity Barretstown is urging the public to help reduce the number of families on their waiting lists.

Over 100 children are facing a wait to avail of the free services the group offers to children with cancer and other serious illnesses.

Patron Sabina Higgins visited the charity today ahead of International Childhood Cancer Day next week to help highlight the cause. 

Speaking at the event Mrs Higgins said, "I am delighted to be associated with Barretstown.

"I was very fortunate to visit the team and the families last year and saw first hand the positive impact the charity has on its campers."

Colm and Alexa Bodkin and their three young children from Phibsboro, Dublin are just some of the campers who have been helped by the group.

Leo, 7, Arthur, 4, and Ella, 10, Bodkin, from Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Leo, 7, Arthur, 4, and Ella, 10, Bodkin, from Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sabina Higgins with Dee Ahearn, Chief Executive of Barretstown and Max Doyle, 8. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sabina Higgins and Dee Ahearn, Chief Executive of Barretstown with Leo, 7, Ella, 10, and Arthur Bodkin, 4. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sabina Higgins shakes hands with Brogan Doyle, 10, with her mother, Geraldine. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sabina Higgins with Dee Ahearn, Chief Executive of Barretstown and Max Doyle, 8. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sabina Higgins and Dee Ahearn, Chief Executive of Barretstown speak with Max Doyle, 8, and other children who use Barretstown. Photo: Damien Eagers
Colm and Alexa Bodkin, from Dublin, with their children, Leo, 7, Arthur, 4, and Ella, 10, today. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sabina Higgins with Dee Ahearn, Chief Executive of Barretstown and Maurice Pratt, Chairman, Sabina visited Barretstown for International Childhood Cancer Day. Photo: Damien Eagers
Sabina Higgins and Dee Ahearn, Chief Executive of Barretstown with Max Doyle, 8, Leo Bokin, 7, Ella Bodkin, 10, Arthur Bodkin, 4, Oscar Doyle, 5, and Brogan Doyle, 10. Photo: Damien Eagers

Mum Alexa said "having fun" had gone off the agenda since her 7-year-old son Leo was diagnosed with Leukemia last year. But she said Barretstown changed all that.

"Fun just slaps you in the face when you visit Barretstown; you have no choice but to have a great time.

"Fun is so important for these kids to get better. The doctor will fix their bodies, but you need somewhere like here to fix their spirits. 

"Their childhood memories can't be full of hospitals and needles. They need Barretstowns to give them some good ones," she added.

Dad Colm echoed his wifes words saying that the camp as been essential for the family.

"When Leo got sick there was no support out there for the family as a whole.  Not only have they helped Leo, they have helped all of us as well," he said.

The organisation celebrated their 20th birthday last year while serving almost 2,200 children in their County Kildare base.

They also helped over 1,500 people through their nationwide outreach programmes. 

The charity hopes to increase the number of campers it serves by 19% during 2015 as it continues to expand its programmes.

Barretstown Chief Executive Dee Ahearn said, "We know that children with cancer can go through immense treatment that can last for years.

"While the treatment produces so many positive outcomes medically, it does impact and disrupt childhood. 

"Our camp and outreach programmes give children a break from treatment and allow them just to be children again.

"Reducing the waiting list for our camps is our key priority for 2015, and we need public support to help us achieve that", she added.

Founded by Hollywood actor Paul Newman the charity has helped over 30,000 seriously ill children and their families since 1994.

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