TD shaves head for charity as Do It For Dan fundraiser hits €2m goal

Laois TD Sean Fleming has shaved all his locks off not because all the barbershops are closed due to Covid-19 restriction but for a little boy who needs life-saving treatment in the US.
TD shaves head for charity as Do It For Dan fundraiser hits €2m goal
Sean Fleming before and after the head shave.

Laois TD Sean Fleming has shaved all his locks off not because all the barbershops are closed due to Covid-19 restriction but for a little boy who needs life-saving treatment in the US.

The Laois deputy has joined hundreds of other well-known faces in the worlds of sport to dye or shave their heads. Mr Fleming agreed to shave his hair if donations to his local GAA club Castletown reached €10,000 for the Do It for Dan fundraiser.

“I (did) it to raise funds for Dan for his medical treatment,” said Mr Fleming.

Members of the public took to fundraising pages to tell the deputy that he looked 10 and 20 years younger after getting the chop.

He lost all his hair as part of a fundraiser for one-year-old Dan Donoher, from Ballybrittas, Co Laois who was born with a genetic neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1 and Scoliosis.

A massive fundraiser - Do it for Dan - was launched on GoFundMe for the boy last month by his parents Niall and Aisling Donoher from Ballybrittas, Co Laois. Both Niall and Aisling represented the county’s football teams at inter-county and senior level.

The fundraiser has so far raised more than €1.8 million as organisers believe they have reached their €2m goal in less than 50 days.

Dan was diagnosed with this disease last December. The life expectancy of an SMA type 1 child is 18-24 months.

A groundbreaking treatment called Zolgensma is currently only available in USA and costs $2.1 million for a once-off infusion.

Studies show that Zolgensma can substantially improve quality of life and survival of the disease. This treatment is only available to children under the age of two and who meet the requirements.

In a statement, fundraising organisers said: “We believe we have reached our goal.

“To all of the amazing clubs, families and fundraisers who are in the midst of their activity, please give it one last push to make sure we get over the line!

“With current live fundraisers close to completion and with direct donations we believe we have done it for Dan.”

About one in every 11,000 children are diagnosed with SMA. It had been incurable, but with this wonder drug on the market it offers Dan a chance at improved or even a normal life.

Aisling his mum added: “The day he was diagnosed is a day that we will never forget, our whole world came crashing down. Our hearts were broken. Like all parents, you have so many hopes and dreams for your children.

Dan is a funny, bubbly little boy who has such a twinkle in his eye. He is such a happy and brave boy despite all this. We are so proud of him.

“A common cold could end Dan's life. Flu season is life-threatening for Dan. He has already been hospitalised due to this which is a fright we will never forget.

“We've seen our child fighting to breath. Dan doesn’t sleep well as he continuously needs to be turned throughout the night and set into a comfortable position as he is unable to do this himself.

"Dan is fully aware. He has a great attention span and is always interested in the goings on around him. This is hard on Dan as he wants to be able to do so much but does not have the ability. Dan loves the farm, his dog Bobby, watching the GAA and his favourite colour is yellow.

“With this treatment, we as parents could hope that one day our son Dan could help his Daddy on the farm, play fetch with his dog Bobby, join his friends outside and simply pick up that yellow ball.”

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