Some of Donegal’s best-known buildings and landmarks are Lighting Up Gold this month as part of the 2nd annual Light It Up Gold campaign for the Childhood Cancer Foundation.
The Irish campaign, launched recently by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Christy Burke, is part of a wider international campaign originating in the USA, that has seen buildings across the world ‘Light It Up Gold’ in September to shine a light on the bravery of children dealing with cancer.
“We are getting a great response from buildings across Ireland, north and south. Our aim this year is to have gold shining in 32 counties across Ireland. My own daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2013 and prior to that I was completely unaware of childhood cancer.
“Now I want to ensure that everyone is aware. Increased awareness will improve early detection and increase understanding among policy makers and communities which will hopefully reduce the isolation of families going through childhood cancer treatment and side effects,” Mary Claire Rennick of Childhood Cancer Foundation said.
In Donegal, the Public Service Centres in Donegal Town and Milford are going gold, in Buncrana, the Council Offices, Castle Bridge and the Roundabout are all already lit up gold as indeed is the Coast Guard Station at Malin Head, An Grianán Theatre in Letterkenny and the Castle at Oakfield Park in Raphoe.
The Polestar Roundabout in Letterkenny will also be lit up gold this weekend.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has come on board with the campaign and especially to Liam O’Hara of O’Hara & Harrison Electrical Contractors who have worked for free to install temporary lights for us. Also special thanks to John McCarron in the Council who has been a wonderful support too.”
Mary Claire explained that the Childhood Cancer Foundation (comprising of family members of children affected by different childhood cancers) was launched earlier this year on 15 February, International Childhood Cancer Day, with a balloon release in Russborough House, County Wicklow attended by many families affected by childhood cancer. The website www.childhoodcancer.ie was launched on the same day.
The group had initially got together to organise the Light It Up Gold campaign in September 2013. That campaign was very successful and received significant positive feedback from families of children affected by childhood cancer and from adult survivors of the disease.
As a result, the group decided to formalise its structure in order to achieve specific goals. The objectives of Childhood Cancer Foundation (CCF) are to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to support education and research projects. Everyone involved in CCF works on a voluntary basis.
Earlier this year the charity, with the supoprt support of the Robinson family, held a hugely successful family-fun day in Oakfield Park, Raphoe, raising awareness and funds for the Foundation.
“Over 200 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in Ireland. That’s 4 families each week who hear the devastating news that their child, brother, sister or grandchild has cancer.
“Childhood cancer is the biggest cause of death by disease in children in Ireland and the Childhood Cancer Foundation is committed to raising public awareness of the issues surrounding childhood cancer, developing early diagnosis programmes amongst health care professionals, advocating for improved services for children affected by cancer and assisting to fund vital services for children and families affected by this disease,” Mary Clare said.
She concluded: “Currently children diagnosed with cancer are not automatically entitled to a medical card and their families must undergo a means test. The form filling and information gathering required for this process are an added burden on families facing an extremely stressful time.
“Without the medical card families are forced to pay for inpatient treatment and for medications, medical equipment and dressings etc needed for children going through treatment. Those affected by childhood cancer should have an automatic entitlement to a medical card given the serious nature of their illness.”