There is Cystic Fibrosis and then there is Clare, two very powerful forces both in their own right. Let me be perfectly clear, I am no expert on CF nor do I even begin to comprehend what it must be truly like living with it. What I do know however, is the power of Clare, living proof that small things come in great packages! Anything I do know about CF I have learnt through this feisty little spirit and her never ending quest to raise its awareness.
Clare is one of the approx. 1200 people in Ireland affected by CF – an inherited chronic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that can clog the lungs & lead to life-threatening lung infections as well as obstruct the pancreas & stop natural enzymes from helping the body break down & absorb food. Ireland has among some of the most severe strains of CF & also has the highest incidence (per head of population) of CF in the world with 50 new cases diagnosed here each year. So suffice to say funding is vital to Ireland’s network of specialised centres & their dedicated teams. An equally vital part of the picture is transplants & organ donation to help those affected.
My intention is not to cut short any valuable information or sound like I am belittling CF in any way but I want to bring the focus back to the aforementioned feisty little spirit that is Clare. Yes, it would be great if the awareness of CF was raised even a notch further through this piece and yes, it would be super if funds were to raise even a little too but the real purpose of this story is to celebrate humanity in all its glory. It is because of her that this article has come about and that my faith in humanity has been reinforced yet again, always a welcome experience in my eyes.
Having lost her younger brother Paul to CF earlier this year she has been pouring all her energy, including reserved energy and then some, into organising a fundraiser in his honour with an emphasis on the FUN! Halloween is Pauls favourite time of the year which is no surprise given his love of jesting and Clare has captured this perfectly in the form of a Halloween Fundraiser. With Clare being a fellow arts and craft nut she immediately got me excited at the thoughts of all the fun we could have with decorations for the event. Before you could say ‘boo‘ she had whipped up her very own ‘Halloween Set Designers’ (the paint stains on my kitchen table are tribute to my participation on this team!), secured a graphic designer for all the super art work and posters, set up the event on several social media sites to promote it and generally left me wondering how my offer of help could be of any benefit!
As with everything of this nature though it costs money and time to do, cue some further banging of the heads and we arrived at a possible sponsor…what followed has been nothing short of humanity at its best. After sharing Clare’s story with people, they all wanted to help! In this day and age where charities are desperately crying out for support and funds are tighter for everyone, my heart soared with how these people wanted to help without so much as a second thought. To say its uplifting to see the natural good in people is an understatement.
Financial Architects based in Ratoath, Co.Meath were quick to come on board as the main sponsor after already surpassing their charity budget for 2015. This incredible act of generousity enabled Clare to get crafty, literally, and call the design team together to discuss how to best use it. Further businesses like New Life Florist, Spiral-up Therapies, The Soul Sanctuary, Beauty by Susan and Tayto quickly followed with their contributions in the form of goodies & gift vouchers! And this is just the tip of the ice berg! Clare herself has a list of so many others who jumped on board to help out and in turn those paved the way for others, it has been truly incredible to watch this snow ball effect. Whether people have given financially, given their time or given in whatever they could, the giving has been over flowing from all angles. I am blessed to know such wonderful people.
I am not suggesting for one second that anyone is better than anyone else, those of you who know me will know my beliefs in how each of us are already wonderful beings. But it has to be said that when we all come together and we all unite for a higher good, especially from a place of nothing but kindness and compassion, it is nothing short of a miracle in motion. To be part of something where the human race comes up stronger than a disease such as CF has got to be, hands down one of the things that makes me feel most alive and connected to the world around me.
I would like to thank Clare for giving me the gift of this experience. I would also like to thank her for being the beautiful person that she is, for standing strong & keeping CF on its toes and for constantly inspiring and reminding us that anything is possible with love, kindness & compassion. Next time you need a little lift, remember how good will always triumph any negative and how a positive can be born from even the toughest of situations.
I give thanks to everyone who has helped Clare help others, you know who you are.
This piece is dedicated to Clare, Paul & The Meleady Family.
If you would like to find out more about CF, there is an abundance of information available on www.cfireland.ie or if you would like to donate to Clares Halloween Fundraiser in honour of her brother Paul or come along, you can easily do so here https://www.gofundme.com/paulshalloweenbash