Hillary's joy as she visits 'fun' camp for seriously ill youths
Hillary Clinton said she felt a "sense of joy" as she visited Barretstown yesterday as the guest of honour at a founders' dinner marking the charity's 25th year.
Barretstown, the camp which caters for seriously ill children near Ballymore Eustace in Co Kildare, was founded by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman in 1994 and modelled on his Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, United States.
Former US presidential candidate Ms Clinton has been a long-time supporter of Newman's SeriousFun Children's Network in the US.
"Paul Newman just saw children who he thought deserved to have joy in their lives, even though they were seriously ill," Ms Clinton said after she visited the camp yesterday.
"And Bill and I visited that first camp in Connecticut all those years ago and were just so overwhelmed by how joyous it was with all of these kids feeling like they were able to have the fun that you would have at a camp.
"I felt the very same sense of joy here today."
Dee Ahearn, chief executive of Barretstown, said it was an honour to have Ms Clinton visit the organisation.
"It was such an incredible honour and privilege to welcome Ms Clinton here and to give her a tour of our facilities, she said.
"Ms Clinton met with members of our camp team and some of our campers as they took part in activities including our high ropes course, archery, and arts and crafts, and they were all very excited to meet her."
Ms Ahearn said Ms Clinton was very keen to come to Ireland to see the camp.
"We are so grateful to her for taking the time to come to Barretstown to mark our 25th anniversary and for her ongoing support," she said.
"Childhood stops for seriously ill children, and here at Barretstown, we press play.
"We believe that every child with a serious illness should enjoy their childhood.
"Our programmes are delivered entirely free of charge, and this would not be possible without the support we receive from our founders and our long-term supporters."
Ms Ahearn said she thought Newman, who died in 2008, would be pleased to see his vision alive and well in Ireland.
Since the site - which has 24-hour on-site medical and nursing care - first opened in 1994, it has welcomed more than 50,000 campers.