The sister of a boy with special needs who died from sepsis just four months ago, has raised over €12,000 for a respite centre that he loved.
Aoibhínn Sharkey (14) from Tullyallen, loves cycling, as had her brother Sean (16), and within weeks of his tragic passing in January, she set out to help raise funds for the Maria Goretti Centre in county Louth in his memory.
Five children took part by cycling 200kms each during the month of March while raising funding totalling €19,560 for the centre.
Seán, who had down syndrome and autism, loved being outdoors and enjoyed a range of sporting activities including cycling.
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Aoibhínn and her parents Fiona and Peter, remain heartbroken at losing Seán but visited the centre earlier this week for the presentation of the cheque.
The centre, in Lordship, county Louth,“was always Seán’s happy place,” Fiona said.
“When Seán went to the Maria Goretti Centre we were happy and comfortable, we trusted them impeccably with our son.”
The day before Seán became suddenly unwell, Fiona was in the national newspapers raising awareness of the importance of education for children with special needs.
This week she said, “the Maria Goretti staff are like a second family to the people in Louth who have a child with additional needs and attend the centre. We would have been lost without them.”
She said that the children who fundraised, “have known Sean for years through cycling and have had such empathy for him and kindness and inclusion.”
She said her daughter, “is a deeply incredible young girl who has seen many things throughout her young years. Her willingness and helping hands will always be there for children with additional needs. She is our inspiration as parents and she loves and misses Sean so much.”
“Every county in Ireland needs a Maria Goretti family for their special child,” she added.
Deirdre Quinn, manager of the centre said, “it is amazing that five young kids would take on a challenge like this and commit to it for a month.”
“It was children supporting other children, that really struck a chord with me. It was unique and special,” she said.
Some of the funds were used to develop a music room in memory of Sean and of Gretta Kieran-Cullen (12) from Termonfeckin, who also passed away in January, and was also a client of the centre.
This article was written by Elaine Keogh
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