Record-breaking rower Damian Browne has officially launched a new event to raise vital funds for the paediatric unit at University Hospital Galway.
The adventurer, who was the first person to row from New York to Galway, showed his support at the launch of the first Galway Sick Kids Foundation Gala Ball.
The ball will take place at the Galway Bay Hotel on Saturday, 4 February next year.
With his feet firmly back on solid ground after his voyage across the Atlantic for Project Empower, Damian Browne said he was ‘delighted to support such a worthy cause’.
At 6ft 5in, the former rugby player joked that he was happy to share his ‘considerable weight’ to launch the event.
“The organisers work selflessly and tirelessly for the community,” he said.
“They work to support children who are in such a vulnerable situation. This is such a worthy cause, and I am delighted to be able to support it.”
The Galway Sick Kids Foundation supports children and their families from Galway, Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo, and North Clare who are attending the paediatric unit of UHG.
Among their recent initiatives is the installation of a self-contained cubbie sensory hub, providing a calm and relaxing environment for children with sensory issues.
And they provided a wheelchair friendly swing in the playground by Galway company, Creative Solutions.
Chairperson of the Galway Sick Kids Foundation, Colm Kennelly, said that the first gala ball is an important chance to raise vital funds and to showcase the work of the charity.
“We are a small committee and together have raised over €100,000 since the charity began five years ago,” he said.
“One of our greatest achievements to date has been the installation of the cubbie sensory hub at the hospital.
“It has been described as a gamechanger by the medical team as it is a sanctuary for children, especially those with sensory issues, where they can relax and feel calm.”
For John Reilly, Chairperson of the Knocknacarra Football Club, the Galway Sick Kids Foundation is the perfect partnership for the organisation, given their shared focus on community.
Speaking at the launch of the gala ball, Mr Reilly explained how it is a ‘natural fit based on our ethos to serve the people and children of the locality’.
He noted how the reach of the charity goes far beyond the boundaries of the county.
“The paediatric unit serves everyone from Doolin to Donegal,” he said. “It’s not just for Galway, it is for the west and northwest of Ireland.
“We have 1,200 children in our club, and what I love about this charity, is the immediacy with which any funds raised go straight to the unit.
“These are personal items that really make a difference to the children and to the running of the unit. We feel very privileged to be a partnered with the charity. And we are all looking forward to the ball in 2023.”
Also at the launch, Mayor of Galway City, Cllr Clodagh Higgins praised the work undertaken by the charity which ‘touches the hearts of so many homes’.
The inaugural Galway Sick Kids Foundation Gala Ball takes place on Saturday, February 4 at the Galway Bay Hotel.
MCs on the night will be Galway Bay FM’s Mollie and Ollie, with music from the Ignite Gospel Choir, rousing classic hits and covers from Galway band Pyramid and late-night entertainment from DJ Doc.
Tickets cost €85 and include a four-course meal and wine.
Tickets can be purchased at Colm’s Life Pharmacy, Salthill, and the Treasure Chest on Shop Street Galway.
Tickets can also be purchased by phoning Michelle on 087 9550841.