Artist impression of the new BUMBLEance "MUNSTER MACHINE"
BUMBLEance Children’s Ambulance and Munster Rugby have teamed up to create one of the most tangible charity partnerships imaginable.
The interactive ambulance service, which was founded by Munster couple Mary and Tony Heffernan from Castlemaine (Kerry), prides itself on delivering smiles to Ireland’s youngest patients.
The uniquely designed Munster Rugby and BUMBLEance branded vehicle will be known as the #MUNSTERMACHINE and will be the 18th vehicle to join the fleet later in 2021.
The charity hopes to raise over €250,000 through the initiative to fund this new vehicle and regional service.
BUMBLEance Co-Founder and CEO, Tony Heffernan, explains the campaign further: "For years, we have been transporting our King and Queen Bees from Munster and beyond in comfort and style.
"Now with the support of Munster Rugby and fans, we will be getting the Red Army mobilised to help even more children. We are asking all Munster Rugby supporters to get behind this amazing initiative and help us fund this new state-of-the-art vehicle.
"There are a number of ways to get involved with an amazing opportunity for a limited number of supporters to become virtual stakeholders in the vehicle itself."
While supporters will be asked to support in any way they can, a special unique "VIB Supporter" package will be available for those who donate €250 to the Munster Machine and this package will give individuals, families, or groups the opportunity to attend the official launch of the vehicle at Thomond Park.
Additionally, one lucky VIB Supporter will have the chance to be selected at random for an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience with Munster Rugby, all subject to Public Health/Government COVID regulations permit. A suite of other benefits will be offered to Munster Machine supporters.
BUMBLEance is the world’s first fully interactive, state of the art, Children’s National Ambulance Service. It provides a national service for critically and seriously ill children, who require transportation between their home and children’s hospitals, hospices, national treatment centres and respite centres.
Commenting on the partnership Claire Cooke, Munster Rugby Corporate Social Responsibility Project Manager, said: "We are delighted to Support BUMBLEance on this exciting campaign, helping provide an essential service to those in need within our community. Tony and his team oversee an amazing charity that do incredible work around the province and beyond.
"We all look forward to seeing the Munster Machine on the road for the next five years and Munster Rugby is very proud of the part it will play in providing a unique experience and support to children in need."
Charity is very much about starting at home and this is evident with the team effort from Co-Founder Mary Heffernan and husband Tony who will personally contribute again to get a new BUMBLEance on the road.
Mary noted, "Both Tony and I will be donating to the Munster Machine ourselves in memory of our two children, Saoirse and Liam.
"We would encourage all fellow Munster Rugby supporters, BUMBLEance fans, and anyone wishing to get involved, to do the same. It is a great legacy to be associated with and it offers families a unique opportunity to celebrate the life, birthday, or other milestones of their loved one, friend or the Munster supporter in their life."
Tony added: "BUMBLEance also provides a very unique and specialised service through its end-of-life Angel Trips. These are designed for a child in palliative care who is making his or her final journey on earth. Before the Angel Trip service, parents would often have to drive themselves home with their loved one or to take a taxi.
"We continue to deliver the Angel Trips during the Covid-19 crisis. Mary and I know first-hand the importance of this service as our Liam had his Angel Trip on BUMBLEance in May 2014. We know that heartbreak and BUMBLEance is all about helping other families."
Anthony Morrisey, Munster Rugby’s Business Development Manager, talks about his first-hand experience of the service after availing of it for his little boy Theo who is one of the charity’s King Bees, "Having the benefit of going on the BUMBLEance to appointments during the pandemic has really shown me as a parent the importance and value of the service more than ever.
"BUMBLEance is part of our family and we are part of their BEE team, the charity has continued to support us and others throughout the COVID-19 crisis."
For those that would like to get behind the Munster Machine, details can be found on the charity’s website, www.bumbleance.com/ MunsterMachine
BUMBLEance is part of The Saoirse Foundation which was founded by the Heffernans in 2010 after their young daughter, Saoirse, was diagnosed with the rare and always fatal neurological condition Batten Disease. Little Saoirse passed away in January 2011 when she was only 5 years old. Tragically the Heffernan’s son Liam was also diagnosed with Batten Disease. He grew his angel wings also at the tender age of five in 2014.
There have been over 14,000 trips nationwide since BUMBLEance’s inception and there are hundreds of families availing of the charity’s services, all of which are free. Despite fundraising plans being devastated due to the pandemic, the charity continues to help families from across the country and provide invaluable support.