Shannon Air Display: Boy fighting cancer gets special treat

Stephen Reilly (11) wrote to Shannon Airport asking if he could get a helicopter ride

Steven Reilly (11) was given VIP treatment at the Shannon Air Display. Photograph: Alan Place/Fusionshooters.

Steven Reilly (11) was given VIP treatment at the Shannon Air Display. Photograph: Alan Place/Fusionshooters.

 

A Co Galway schoolboy who is battling a very aggressive bone cancer got the treat of his life at the weekend as he was lifted high into the skies overhead 40,000 people at the Shannon Air Display.

Stephen Reilly (11), from Eyrecourt, Co. Galway was given VIP treatment throughout Saturday’s air show in recognition of his courageous fight against osteosarcoma.

The parents of the young aircraft enthusiast, whose right leg has been amputated because of the cancer, wrote to Shannon Airport last week asking if there was any possibility he could get a helicopter ride.

He got his wish, getting a bird’s eye view of the airfield courtesy of Executive Helicopters from his native Galway, before the five hour show began.

Shannon Air Display: Stephen's story

“It was the best day ever,” said Stephen who was accompanied by his father Michael, mother Nora and brother Daniel (9).

“The helicopter ride was fantastic. Just to see everything from way up there was great.”

Stephen’s father Michael said: “It’s just an incredible day for us. He has been through an awful lot over the past six years, more than you could imagine.

“He has undergone chemotherapy and leg salvage surgery. He then had his leg amputated in 2013 but he has been unbelievably brave. He has just gotten on with it.”

Shannon Airport Operations Director Niall Maloney said that everyone at Shannon had been inspired by Stephen’s story.

“He’s such a brave young man. We got the email from his family during the week and it was one of those moments when we said this just has to happen.”

Organisers said over 40,000 people attended the air display, which included aerobatic performers, parachutists, helicopters, jet fighters and stunt fliers and was held to mark the 70th anniversary of the first commercial transatlantic flight to Shannon.