Terry and Brendan Ring of Cliona's Foundation with Dave O'Hora, Southern, Eugene Phelan, Limerick Leader and Pat Redden of the Clayton Hotel | Picture: Adrian Butler
THE founders of a Limerick-based charity which has raised in the region of €1.5 million and has assisted 550 families across Ireland have been named the Limerick Persons of the Month.
Cliona’s Foundation provides financial assistance directly to parents of children with life-limiting or chronic, complex care needs to help with the non-medical expenses related to caring for their child.
The foundation was set up by Brendan and Terry Ring from Lough Gur following the death of their daughter Cliona from an inoperable brain tumour in 2006 aged 16.
Over the years, as Cliona underwent numerous different hospital treatments, Brendan and Terry were struck by the number of families facing enormous financial hardship, on the brink of financial free-fall, blindsided by non-medical expenses piling up.
“We have a lot of work still to do but this award recognises the work we have done and we are grateful for that because that keeps us going. It’s nice to be appreciated. We don’t do it for our own good, we do it because there is a real need for this charity,” said Brendan.
There are 4,000 children with life-limiting illnesses in Ireland of which 400 of them will die every year.
“We help people who are financially struggling. We really care about those people. We have met them on our journey having lost Cliona. It’s nice to be able to do it in Cliona’s memory but it’s not for her memory we are doing it, we are doing it because there is a real need for it,” Brendan emphasised.
Cliona’s Foundation believe that no family should have to face any added financial stress when already struggling with the devastation and trauma of a seriously ill child.
No other charity in Ireland offers financial support solely for non-medical costs which can amount to significant sums.
“We cover the non-medical day-to-day expenses. That’s it in a nutshell,” Terry explained, “car parking, hotel accommodation, outstanding bills and everyday costs. On occasions, we have paid for funerals. We would have received an application from a family and in the interim that child had died. There is a funeral bill to be paid so the family do receive a cheque from us to help with that cost as well.”
Brendan and Terry both work voluntarily with the foundation. They do have part-time staff at the office which is located in Roselawn House, University Business Complex in the National Technology Park, Limerick.
“It’s very much all hands on deck and doing things ourselves. We had our cycle at the weekend. We are going to be trying to get the Government to give us more subsidies as well because we don’t get anything - everything we do is community and corporate-based and money we raise ourselves. We have our academic report being launched in Dublin this month. Trinity College have helped us to write that.” said Brendan.
“You would have to believe that Cliona was here for a reason and she left a legacy behind her. There's a reason we are doing this work in her name.”