POPSTAR Bressie has lost his heart to eight-year-old Glen Wilkie from Foynes and has donated his guitar to help Glen get the life-changing operation which will help him walk on his own for the first time.
After meeting Glen at a gig in Ballybunion earlier this summer, Bressie rang and spoke to Glen the following day and made a personal donation towards the familyâ€™s efforts to raise â‚¬60,000 to pay for the operation, Glenâ€™s mother, Margaret Linehan-Wilkie revealed this week,
Bressie has now pledged his guitar and promised to autograph and dedicate it for the winner when he plays the Big Top in Limerick on September 28, Margaret told the Limerick Leader.
â€œThe final push is now on,â€ she added, explaining that the operation, in a St Louis hospital in the US had been brought forward by two weeks. After raising â‚¬30,000, they now have only two months to raise the remaining â‚¬30,000 needed to pay for the operation.
But Margaret is hopeful that with the support of family and neighbours and the kindness of strangers that they will raise the money.
Anything else doesnâ€™t bear thinking about. â€œItâ€™s our only chance of getting Glen walking,â€ Margaret said. â€œHe needs this operation as soon as possible because the older he gets, the tighter his muscles become.â€
Glen has cerebral palsy and canâ€™t stand on his own. But, said his mum, he is a very bright and active boy and gets about on a frame or wheelchair.
The neurosurgery, pioneered over the past 20 years in the US, could mean he will walk on his own for the first time. Already, eleven Irish children have benefited from similar-type surgery, Margaret explained,
But the HSE will not pay for the US surgery, because they have no aftercare programme in place here, Margaret added. And although a hospital in Bristol has begun carrying out similar surgery, Glen is too old to be accepted there.
Earlier this year, Glen was assessed by experts in St Louis and accepted for surgery.
Last month, the family was given a date in late November, for the operation, galvanising them into a new round of fund-raising. But then last Friday, a new, earlier date arrived, piling on the pressure.
â€œPeople have been great,â€ Margaret told the Limerick Leader.
Last week, some 40 people gathered in Foynes to contribute ideas and to help organise fund-raisers. And a class-mate of Glenâ€™s sold off some of her toys and donated the money to the Help Glen fund.
Meanwhile, Margaret and others are travelling the roads selling raffle tickets for the guitar at â‚¬10 each.
There are a number of other prizes also.
Margaret, husband David and Glenâ€™s sister Sharon plan to travel with Glen to the US and will take part in and be trained in the programme of intensive physiotherapy which will follow Glenâ€™s surgery.
They expect to remain in Missouri for five weeks and when they return, Glen will have to have physiotherapy for a further two years.
Go to www.glenwilkie,org for further information or go onto Glenâ€™s page on Facebook.
Margaret can be contacted at 087-9183133.