Irish American Gala raises $4.5m for cancer aid

HOLLYWOOD film star and philanthropist Paul Newman last night accepted a donation of $1 million (€738,000) to be spent on Irish children with cancer.

The money was presented at the America Ireland Fund’s 32nd Annual New York Gala, at which 1,500 of Irish America’s most influential business and community leaders gathered to honour Irish President Mary McAleese.

The gala raised a record $4.15m for causes in Ireland, including two key projects that are part of the Fund’s Hope through Youth programme. For the first time ever, the fund attracted over $500,000 from Ireland itself, which the organisers said reflected the growth in philanthropy from the Celtic Tiger economy.

The $1m donation from the America Ireland Fund and America International Group (AIG) was awarded to Barretstown, the Irish branch of the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which provides care and hope for children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. The gift, accepted by Paul Newman, will establish the Barretstown and Beyond programme. This will extend Barretstown’s services across Ireland and Europe and double the number of children reached by Barretstown by 2010.

A further award was made to Rowallane Integrated College in Northern Ireland to enable the construction of a school where Protestants and Catholic children will be educated together.

“The outpouring of support this year exceeded all of our expectations and makes this event the largest and most successful in the Fund’s three decade history,” said Kieran McLoughlin, President of The American Ireland Fund. “We are thankful for the community’s continued generosity and are honoured to recognise President McAleese, Martin Sullivan (of AIG) and, of course, to welcome Paul Newman. Our aim is to support Ireland’s youth and help create a new island for a new generation. These two projects are excellent examples of how we hope to achieve this.”

During the evening, Loretta Brennan Glucksman, Chairman of the American Ireland Fund, presented the Humanitarian Award to Mary McAleese for her dedication to engendering reconciliation between Northern Ireland’s two communities.

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