The Make-A-Wish Foundation is appealing for support as it is conducting its annual fundraising campaign entirely online this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The charity, which grants wishes to children aged between three and 17 with life threatening illnesses, managed to realise 56 wishes last year despite the disruption to its fundraising and activities.
Some 75 per cent of children’s wishes before the pandemic involved travel to locations such as Disneyland or to meet celebrities, but things had to change last year due to travel curbs. The wishes granted ranged from building a garden play tower to meeting a celebrity online to receiving an electric bicycle and trailer.
The latter was the wish of Co Clare girl Kate Maher (10), who was born at 28 weeks in 2010 along with her sister who died after five days. Kate was diagnosed with severe brain damage when she was two weeks old and is quadriplegic.
"She can't sit up or see, but she's able to talk and communicate and she loves having fun and being outdoors," Linda Maher, Kate's mother, said.
Foundation volunteer Ailbhe Goff said Kate's request stood out as "it was just so unique" and she found a suitable trailer online. She contacted a Mullingar bike shop, which measured up Kate's father, Paul, a keen cyclist who is tasked with pulling the trailer, between lockdowns.
Ms Maher said it was “amazing” for Kate to “have this feeling of movement and the wind in her face for the first time. She absolutely loves it.”
“We’ve always been an active, outdoors family but before this we’d have to arrange a baby-sitter or respite for Kate and couldn’t take her with us.”
The foundation estimates there is a backlog of some 200 seriously ill children in Ireland who are waiting for their wishes to be granted. It receives no Government funding and is reliant on public donations, which can be made via www.makeawish.ie