Exactly seven months on since his passing, the family of Jack Whelan Kinsella are set to remember him with a large scale fundraiser at Clayton White's Hotel. The thirteen year old CBS student died tragically in November of last year leaving his parents Michelle Whelan and Sean Kinsella absolutely heartbroken.
Since Jack's passing, his parents have taken some solace in the support of the Wexford community and were driven to stage a charity event to remember their beloved son and to raise funds for two wonderful causes - Pieta House and Wexford MarineWatch. While the ball itself is sold out with 490 people attending, tickets are still available for the raffle, with prizes including hampers, weekends away, gym memberships and concert tickets.
'People have been absolutely fantastic,' said Jack's dad Sean. 'The ball sold out straight away and we probably could've sold it twice over. Businesses locally have been really amazing too, be it sponsoring tables or donating prizes for the raffle. We've been blown away.'
Sean also hopes that the event will provoke discussion on the subject of mental health among young people and provide a great opportunity to remember Jack. 'I suppose we do want to promote a positive mental health message,' said Sean. 'But also, in a way, I suppose we want to bring across the heartache suffered by those left behind. We want the message to go out to people that if they're feeling like that, to go out and get help. It's unbelievable the amount of people affected by this at such a young age.'
While the crisis in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Wexford is well documented, Sean believes that while progress is being made in some areas, it is greatly needed in others.
'I think every one of us are learning more and more about mental health,' he said. 'Thankfully there's not as big a stigma attached to it as there was years ago. In the last six months there's been more of a drive to have talks in schools etc and I think that's the way forward. It gives our children the coping mechanisms to deal with these feelings as they arise.'
Bearing the title the 'Jackson Ball', the event is set to be full of glitz and glamour as it takes over Clayton Whites Hotel on Saturday night. Sean says that he and Jack's mam Michelle have had wonderful support in putting the fundraiser together with a great team of people behind them and they're hoping it's going to be a great night.
Raffle tickets are still available to purchase from the 'Jackson Charity Raffle' Facebook page or at Killeens or Crosstown Service Stations. In recent weeks, a number of recognisable faces have been busy promoting the cause with videos from the likes of Paul McGrath, Lee Chin, Kevin Doyle and Davy Fitzgerald. Tickets are available up to Saturday with the draw taking place Sunday morning.