President visits Barretstown to acknowledge work to help sick children

President visits Barretstown to acknowledge work to help sick children

Saturday February 15: The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins visited Barretstown in Co Kildare today to mark the 20th anniversary of the children’s charity which has helped over 27,000 seriously ill children and their family members since 1994.

The President, who is visiting on International Childhood Cancer Day, was met by 200 Barretstown campers and their families. He was shown a newly made film of Barretstown campers and their supporters performing Dream Baby Dream, the closing song from Bruce Springsteen’s new album.

Barretstown provides therapeutic recreation or “serious fun” to families affected by childhood cancer. Last year it extended its service to children with other serious illnesses. An average of three children per week receive a cancer diagnosis in Ireland. Childhood cancer rates have improved substantially in recent decades and the five year survival rate is now over 80%.

Barretstown was founded in Co Kildare by the actor Paul Newman in 1994. The improvement in survival rates since then has made the work of Barretstown more important than ever. “These survival rates are due to major advances in medical treatment, but survival often comes with a price”, according to Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown. “It can involve intensive and long-term treatment which can take over three years and which disrupts childhood development. Barretstown is about giving ill children some of their childhood back.

“Through the Barretstown camps and our Hospital Outreach Programme we enable children to just be children, even while undergoing such disruptive treatment. With the improving survival rate it is now more vital that we expand our programmes.

“We thank the President for coming to Barretstown and acknowledging our wonderful campers and their families. We also thank the public for their generous support in the past and urge them to continue to support our work on behalf of these children.”

Donations can be made through the Barretstown website at: www.barretstown.org/donate

International Childhood Cancer Day was initiated in 2002 by the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organizations.

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