MAKING wishes come true for terminally ill patients is the focus of a fund-raiser taking place in Ennis later this month.
Sixmilebridge woman, Vicky Ward, has organised the Dance for Wishes event to thank the Limerick-based charity, Clare’s Wish, who helped to make her late sister’s final wish a reality.
The organisation was founded by Kevin Clancy following the loss of his own father. “My dad passed away in 2011, after a six months battle with his illness and he had a wish at the time that we couldn’t really do. He wants to be on plugged basically and brought home. We couldn’t do that because he was too sick. When he finally passed away, it was a small bit of research to see who and I know we’re granting wishes for the likes of my dad and I was shocked to find there was nobody out there.”
A few years later, Kevin set about addressing this deficiency and set up Clare’s Wish, named after his own sister who passed away at just 24 years of age. “I was delighted to be able to keep Clare’s memory associated with the charity,” Kevin noted.
The first wish was granted to a terminal lung cancer patient in her early 20s whose wedding was arranged with the charity’s support. Since 2014, Clare’s Wish has been involved in several cases in Clare and operates from a base close to the University of Limerick (UL).
Vicky found out about the organisation when she wanted to grant a wish for her sister Bernadette Kuczmyjiw-Jackson. The sisters were both living in Sixmilebridge when Bernadette was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2018.
“I was just doing a little bit of research because we were trying to have some fun and make the last year count and make as many memories as possible,” Vicky explained. “I came across Clare’s Wish and contacted Kevin. He very quickly arranged a wish for Bern. It could be called a frivolous wish, but she loved it and it what she really wanted. She wanted to own and drive a Range Rover and we knew that she wouldn’t be able to. So Kevin arranged for a lovely man called John to come along in a chauffeur-driven Range Rover and take us to Kildare Village for the day. It was a lovely day. That wish was granted six months after Bern’s diagnosis, and we lost her then six months after that.”
The fact that the fund-raiser is taking place around the time of Bernadette’s first anniversary makes the event all the more special for Vicky.
“Bern was full of energy full of life. She lived life like there was no tomorrow. She was great fun. She was always my greatest defender and she was my best friend. She was very young, to be diagnosed with something that there was no hope of getting better from. They said that she might have 12 months, and she was determined to beat the diagnosis. Her sense of humour was a little strange. She said: ‘I’ll beat the date and I’ll beat the 12 months if it kills me’. That was just her sense of humour. And she did beat the diagnosis. She beat it by five days.”
Fund-raising to continue to make wishes come true is something that Vicky is passionate about, but it can be an uphill struggle according to Kevin:
“We’re not the biggest or the loudest charity out there, but we believe that what we do can make a really important difference for people with a terminal illness and for their families. We get a lot of support from hotels and other service providers free-of-charge, but we do need to keep raising funds, that’s why Vicky’s event is so important to us.”
Contacting Clare’s Wish and getting a wish granted is generally done online or by email. “Most requests come through email or the website (clareswishfoundation.com). The normal system is that we get the request and people fill an application form and their doctor fills a section of the form, so there’s usually a bit of paper work. If we see conditions like pancreatic cancer or brain tumour though, we will speed things up and the admin there is minimal, because we understand that people just don’t have that much time.”
Vicky agrees that making the most of family time made a huge difference to herself and her sister, Bernadette.
“Clare’s Wish helped make very special memories for me of my sister and for the rest of my family. They all remember it and they saw pictures and they heard how excited she was. So as a family, then as a sister, I think it’s important when an organisation does something for you that you should do something back for them. Because by doing that, you can make somebody else’s special day as well.”
The Dance for Wishes event, features music by Two Hearts, and takes place at The Temple Gate Hotel on Friday, February 28 at 9pm. Tickets are available by contacting Vicky Ward on 085-7755691.