At the ball some fun things happen. Melky’s husband is a cool dude called Supreme and I call him Soup all night, which I, if nobody else, finds hilarious. A brilliant a cappella harmony group called Keynotes do a duet with Brian Kennedy. Melky sings a Tina Turner song and my rule about never dancing in public is momentarily forgotten. I’m rollin’ (rollin’) rollin’ (rollin’) on a river. I win something in the raffle. Suddenly, I love these events again.
But never mind all the high-octane messing, the thing I remember best about the night is a woman called Shirley making a speech about her son, Luke. It was the Make-A-Wish Ireland Ball. They grant wishes to seriously ill children and already this year they’ve granted wishes to 140 children. They want to be train drivers for the day, or go to the Paralympics, or ride a Lipizzaner horse in Vienna. Shirley spoke about nine-year-old Luke who was born with Prune Belly Syndrome, a condition that affects one in 40,000 babies, most of whom don’t survive beyond a few weeks. He was born with no tummy muscles, abnormalities in the urinary tract, end stage kidney failure, chronic lung problems – the list went on and on.
Luke’s wish was to be Sonic The Hedgehog. Not just dress up as him but be him, actually turn into sonic and flip and run at supersonic speed.
Impossible? That’s a dirty word in Make-A-Wish Ireland. They drafted in some IADT students and after months of meticulous planning Luke was able to star in his own adaptation of a Sonic The Hedgehog game. Luke was thrilled that his exact idea came to life on the screen and Shirley said it gave her and her husband “a day off from worrying”.
“It was a day where our whole focus was on Luke but only about what made him truly happy,” she said. “I can honestly say I didn’t think about medications, infections, future surgeries, battles with hospital and HSE or blood results the whole day. I just kept looking at his face, and every time he said ‘wow this is awesome’ it was like winning the Lotto for his Dad and me.”
The recession has driven a wrecking ball through the charity ball sector but I’m glad I got the chance to hear about Luke and to put on my mother’s best frock and dance like nobody was watching in support of a magical cause that’s well worth celebrating.
In other news . . .At the Leinster and Munster Rugby match today, Make-A-Wish Ireland with Bank of Ireland will attempt to set a new coin-tossing world record. At half-time, everyone seated in the Aviva stadium will toss a coin and the money collected will go towards helping to grant some of the 240 wishes on the waiting list. To donate, visit makeawish.ie