Wednesday 23 January 2019

Dads and daughters set to dance for Anna

Opera House routine will help raise money for Mallow girl's life-changing operation

The ‘Daddy and Me Dance’ troupe who will take to the stage of the Opera House on Sunday for the Anna Browne appeal
The ‘Daddy and Me Dance’ troupe who will take to the stage of the Opera House on Sunday for the Anna Browne appeal

Bill Browne

The founder and director of the Mallow-based Centre Stage School, Aideen McAuliffe, has issued an emotional appeal for the local community to lend their support to a campaign to help a former student to realise her dream of dancing once again.

Last June seven-year-old Anna Browne from Mallow was diagnosed with a significant neurological condition, bilateral PVL of the brain. It has resulted in Anna developing spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, a condition that severely inhibits movement in her lower limbs and has left her in almost constant pain. 

She had been a student at the Centre Stage School until her legs became too weak to dance. As Anna grows older the condition will get more debilitating, severely impacting her mobility and restricting her from doing the kind of everyday activities that children of her age take for granted, including dancing. Speaking recently to The Corkman Anna’s mother Evelyn said her daughter had to wear support splints for up to 10 hours each day, and special leg casts at night-time.

"She relies on crutches for support and has to use a wheelchair to travel long distances," said Evelyn "Each morning she has to do up to 40 minutes of stretches just to get out of bed. Anna is in constant daily pain in her hips, knees and back. 

"Her condition causes premature ageing of the body that will, eventually, mean she will lose her ability to walk. While the thought of her being in a wheelchair scares me, it's the pain that she has to endure each day that upsets me the most.  "Some nights the pain even wakes her up. Anna's life has changed so much over the past year and it is breaking my heart," said Evelyn. 

However, there is hope as Anna as been accepted for elective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), a procedure carried out at the St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri. It involves the identification and severing of the sensory nerves that cause spasticity in the lower limbs. 

A Go Fund Me account, 'Anna's Dream To Dance', has been set up to raise the €100,000 needed to cover the cost of the surgery, follow-up therapy and treatments, and travel to the US. So far the appeal has managed to raise almost €60,000 through donations and a wide variety of fundraising initiatives. As part of the campaign, the Centre Stage School has put together a special routine that will be incorporated into its annual 'Footwork' showcase, taking place at Cork Opera House next Sunday afternoon. 

The 'Daddy and Me Dance for Anna' routine will see 17 fathers of children at the school, along with Olympic medal winner Rob Heffernan, perform alongside their daughters on the Opera House stage as part of the showcase.

"The school is hoping to raise €2,000 in support of Anna through the fund-raiser and we are asking the community in Mallow and the surrounding areas to  support the Go Fund Me appeal by sponsoring the individual dancers," said Aideen. 

"All donations will be directly forwarded to the Browne family after the show," she added. 

For more details about the show and how to donate to 'Daddy and Me Dance for Anna' visit 

To find out more about the 'Anna's Dream To Dance' appeal or to donate directly to it, visit the dedicated Go Fund Me page.