The Devine family from Gortin, Co Tyrone is calling on anyone interested in taking part in the 2014 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon to ‘Run for Home’ in support of the event’s official charity CLIC Sargent and its ‘Homes from Home’ Appeal.
In 2010 the Devine’s heard the devastating news that their nine year old daughter, Ailise, had cancer. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia – a cancer that placed her in a high risk category.
Ailise was treated in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and is now in full remission. Coming from Gortin the Devine’s faced a round trip journey of some 170 miles either to visit Ailise in hospital or having to take her for regular check ups. Monthly bills also increased, largely as a result of the increased travel costs.
CLIC Sargent’s ‘Homes from Home’ Appeal aims to help families likes the Devine’s by building two specialist homes in close proximity to Belfast’s principal treatment centres.
The Homes from Home will be designed with the families and their circumstances in mind. Each will comprise of large en suite family bedrooms, communal living and kitchen spaces, a quiet room and age appropriate play space.
The Homes from Home will be a first in Northern Ireland and are to be provided free of charge – offering families the ability to remain close to their child while they undergo treatment as well as the chance to maintain a sense of a normal family life by keeping the whole family together.
Commenting on the ‘Run for Home’ marathon campaign Gerard Devine said: "The journey from home to the hospital was a nightmare. It takes about two hours and in that time your mind races – what will the doctors tell us today, is it good news, bad news, is Ailise okay, what if? I think I experienced every emotion under the sun and then some.
"Being able to stay close to the hospital and in a home from home would have really helped us. It would have given us, and Ailise, piece of mind knowing that we were close to things. It would also have afforded us our own space away from the ward on the days when Ailise was allowed to leave hospital for a short time and to retain a degree a ‘normal’ family life.
"I would encourage anyone interested in taking part in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon to ‘Run for Home’ and to support CLIC Sargent’s efforts to build two Homes from Home that can support families going through a cancer journey. Cancer has a nasty knack of blinding and paralysing you to the point that you can’t see beyond it - CLIC Sargent’s homes won’t cure cancer, but they will go a long way in helping you look beyond it."
Teresa Sloan, Appeal Director with CLIC Sargent, said: "The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is one of Northern Ireland’s most famous and well supported events, so to be chosen as the official charity for the 2014 event is something we’re all very excited about.
"2014 is a big year for the charity…we hope to open Northern Ireland’s first ever ‘Home from Home’ for families of young children undergoing cancer treatments at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. Although we are over half way, our fundraising focus is to develop a second Home from Home specifically designed for teenagers and young adults which will be located in close proximity to the City Hospital.
"The ‘Homes from Home’ appeal to date has received tremendous support from the people of Northern Ireland, but we still have some way to go before we reach the fundraising targets. So, if you’re a runner, a relay racer or a walker and are interested in getting involved in the 2014 marathon, why not do it and ‘Run for Home’ for CLIC Sargent? Any money you raise will stay in Northern Ireland and will go directly to the Northern Ireland ‘Homes from Home’ appeal."
Danny O’Connor, Chairman of Belfast City Marathon Ltd said: "Congratulations to CLIC Sargent in securing the official charity status for 2014. We are delighted, and are looking forward to working with such a worthwhile charity for our 33rd event. I would encourage all our participants to tie their shoelaces and select CLIC Sargent in assisting them to raise much needed funds for the families who are caring for their sick children. Come on get signed up to our charity and let’s see a colour of purple running vests outside the City Hall on Monday 5 May 2014."
The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon takes place on Monday 5 May 2014. To learn more about CLIC Sargent’s ‘Homes from Home’ Appeal and to ‘Run for Home’ please visit the official Belfast City Marathon website - www.belfastcitymarathon.com - and choose CLIC Sargent the official nominated charity.