Arlene Harris tells of the impact the Make a Wish charity has on the life of unlucky children suffering from serious health issues
SINCE its Irish inception in 1992, Make a Wish has granted wishes for almost 2000 sick children in Ireland.
As Christmas approaches, many children across the country are battling serious and life-threatening conditions and the charity is urging people to make a difference to their young lives by buying a knitting kit, complete with high quality wool, needles and an exclusive pattern — the proceeds of which will go towards allowing brave youngsters to have a special experience amidst the often gruelling rigours of their daily routine.
The Knit for Wishes Kit costs just €24.95 and as well as being a practical, therapeutic and ultimately enriching Christmas gift, it also allows purchasers the opportunity to bring a ray of sunshine into a child’s life.
Jordan Perez from Sixmilebridge in Co Clare was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II when he was just 10 months old.
The nearly-9 year old, who has three siblings — Ryan, 11, Zoe, 3, and Faith, 1 — is confined to a wheelchair, is very susceptible to infection and over the years has also suffered many chest problems including collapsing lungs, respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest.
His mother Sinead says despite all of his health problems, Jordan is a very happy-go-lucky chap who likes nothing more than playing computer games with his brother— but she wanted him to have a treat so contacted Make a Wish Ireland.
“Because Jordan can’t run around outside like Ryan and can’t be out in the cold, he spends quite a bit of time on computers and loves playing games, particularly anything to do with Star Wars,” she says. “He has been asking me for years for a PS4 but I thought he was too young and they are also fairly expensive so I kept putting it off.
“He is such a cheerful boy and has a great attitude towards everything he has to go through so I decided I would like to try and arrange something special for him and contacted Make-A-Wish.”
Initially she thought he would like a trip to Lapland, but on reflection realised that the combination of a long journey and cold weather could prove difficult and may actually be detrimental to his health — so together with the Make a Wish team, they decided to get the Star Wars fan a PS4, with a little something extra.
“Much as I would have liked Jordan to experience visiting Santa in Lapland, I thought that it probably wouldn’t be good for his health,” says Sinead. “So we decided that the surprise of a PS4 would be much better as it would be something he could have long term (as opposed to a short trip) and he would have a day out when we went to Dublin to receive it.
“But the Make a Wish team went one step further and not only did they present him with the console and some games, but he was also surprised by the cast of Star Wars. Jordan is normally a real chatter box and I have never seen him so lost for words. He just couldn’t believe it and what astonished him the most was that they had come just to see him.”
The little boy also got to take a private tour of the Natural History Museum before returning to Clare with his new gift and a headful of incredible memories.
“The PS4 was the best present Jordan could have been given and he is absolutely delighted with it,” says Sinead. “It is so lovely to see him and Ryan playing games together as for that time, they are just two brothers hanging out and having a laugh, or fighting over whose turn it is — just being normal.
“The Make a Wish Team was incredible and couldn’t do enough for us — from the moment I picked up the phone, everyone was so nice and so keen to look after Jordan and make sure he had a very special experience.
“These days some people are afraid to give to charity as they are worried that the money won’t be used for the cause, but I have to say that Make a Wish really makes a difference to children’s lives. And while I know there are so many charities out there and no-one can give to all of them, by buying just one Knit a Wish kit this Christmas, it will make a difference to another child like Jordan.”
Make a Wish Ireland has granted wishes for more than 19000 since it began in 1992.
The aim of the charity is to grant wishes of children aged between 3 and 17 living with life-threatening medical conditions.
In all possible cases Make-A-Wish ensures that all immediate family members can participate in the child’s wish, to help provide long-lasting and happy memories for those relatives, whatever the future may hold.
The charity receives no government funding, and relies overwhelmingly on public support.
The Knit for Wishes pack contains everything needed to create a luxurious adult scarf or two children’s scarves. Each pack contains 200gms of the best quality Soft Donegal Merino Wool, Basix Birch single pointed needles 30cm-5mm, and an inspired pattern design by renowned Irish Designer Anne Behan of Áine Knitwear.
All proceeds help to grant more wishes and make lasting family memories for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The Knit for Wishes Kit can be purchased at Kilkenny Shop, selected knitting shops nationwide and through www.makeawish.ie for €24.95 plus postage.
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