CLIONA’S Foundation received their second biggest cheque from a fundraiser thanks to Strictly Care to Dance - and it was only a third of the proceeds.
An incredible €60,000 was equally divided between Milford Care Centre, Baby Michael Butler Trust Fund and the charity that provides financial assistance to families with critically and terminally ill children.
The night in the South Court Hotel attracted over 1,000 to see 18 couples strut their stuff on the dance floor. The cheques from St Ailbes Credit Union, main sponsor, were handed out in Hayes’ in Cappamore on Friday night.
The winners, John Dillon and Audrey Horan, received another standing ovation after their dance was shown on TV. The whole event was inspired by the late Matt O’Connell, Pallasgreen. His brother Ger saw the care he got in Milford and decided to run a dancing themed-event to celebrate his life and raise money for the hospice. Ger then included Cliona’s Foundation and the family of Michael Butler, who has a rare neurotransmitter disorder.
Matt was a noted dancer and teacher so Strictly Care to Dance was the perfect fit. On Friday a special tribute set took place in his memory. Pallasgreen danced a half Sliabh gCua set and Cappamore a Clare set.
Not one for the spotlight, Ger wished to thank all involved - dancers, choreographers, sponsors, committee and everyone who attended and supported it. To put its success in context, Brendan Ring, of Cliona’s Foundation, said their €20,000 was the second biggest cheque from a fundraiser they have received since they started.
“I remember Ger coming to talk to me about trying to help us. He said, ‘I want to really give it to deserving charities’. There are a number of families out there and only for Ger’s Strictly Care to Dance they wouldn’t have any financial wherewithal this Christmas. We have 27 families that we are trying to help before Christmas and as a result of Ger’s €20,000 we will probably give 12 to 15 help directly.
“We are hugely indebted to Ger and his team. It genuinely makes a huge difference to children, who unfortunately may not be around this time next year, to enjoy their last Christmas,” said Brendan. Just one example he gives is a child who is terminally ill and may not live until Christmas.
“They had to rent a house away from where she lived because of noise. We are paying rent for that house. She is a little girl on palliative care, it is very very sad,” said Brendan. Ned Butler, dad of baby Michael, said the €20,000 will “give us options”.
“We are looking into a different type of therapy in the States that is working seemingly. There are things we have to do to the house to get it adapted for Michael.,” said Ned. Now they have €20,000 to put towards these plans which they wouldn’t have been able to accrue on top of the day to day running of the house. He says Michael has been in great form and his most recent hospital stay was the shortest to date.
“With the help of God it will be a nice Christmas. It’s another sign of the community spirit in Pallasgreen and east Limerick - it is unbelievable what they are after doing,” said Ned.