A YOUNG Westlife fan who is battling cancer had his dream fulfilled this week when he met his hero, Shane Filan.
Donal Parsons (7) is in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, undergoing his fourth round of immunotherapy.
The young boy from Strandhill, Co Sligo, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma 14 months ago. It is an extremely rare form of cancer which affects around 10 children in Ireland annually.
Because Donal's cancer is so rare, research into it is still in its early stages. Clinical trials are ongoing in the US. The Donal Parsons Trust has been set up to raise money to access any viable treatments and to help other families fighting the disease.
Shane contacted Donal's family in March to see how they could help and made a surprise trip to see the brave boy this week. Tonight, he will play a sell-out concert in Sligo to 1,300 people with all funds going to the trust.
Donal's mum, Jane, said her family are very grateful to Shane.
"Shane got in touch with us after Donal launched a little book in March. He and his wife Gillian said they wanted so much to help. We didn't know them before then, but they really wanted to help. Shane and his family spent an afternoon in our home with Donal. He was so excited," she said.
After the singer moved back to Sligo, Shane suggested he would run a special last show of the You and Me Tour for Donal. Unfortunately, the little boy won't be able to make the 1,300-strong audience at the Knocknarea Arena in IT Sligo tonight.
"He is going to be awfully disappointed at missing the concert," Jane said.
Before Donal went for his latest hospital treatment, he opened the Strandhill Christmas Market in the airport and capped a magical day out with a tour of the Rescue 118 Coast Guard helicopter based there.
"He sees the helicopter going over our house on rescues all the time and he was really excited when he got to visit the base. He didn't get up in the helicopter because there was an emergency when we were there and it had to respond to that. But they have promised Donal he will get a spin in it soon," Jane added.
To donate to the Donal Parsons Trust, log on to http://donalparsonstrust.com