The Share A Dream charity is still reeling from the deaths of its manger Ciara Brolly last May, and founder Shay Kinsella last July, when both died from cancer.
Last month, Garda Ken McDonald humped a 26kg rowing machine up Carrauntoohil, rowed 10km on the summit, carried the machine back down the mountain again, and was joined all the way by Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris.
McDonald was behind the construction of the country’s first ever children’s garda station at the charity’s ‘Dreamland’, a unique centre in Limerick where non-able bodied kids and their able-bodied friends and siblings are facilitated in inclusive play.
Last year the facility was smashed up by raiders who robbed the premises on two separate occasions, and today Garda McDonald presented the centre with a €40,000 cheque raised from the climb.
“I promised Shay that I would raise €30,000 to repair the damage caused after two break-ins, and I pledged that I would climb Ireland’s highest peak, and row 10400m to raise the money, and today I returned to Dreamland and handed over a cheque for €40,000 outside the garda station that I built,” Garda McDonald said.
The presentation ceremony was “bittersweet” for all those who shared in the garda’s dream.
He added: “I am delighted to have fulfilled my promise for Share A Dream, and I’m saddened that Shay was not here to accept the cheque, but I’m also happy to know that his son John and the team at Dreamland will continue his amazing work.”
John Kinsella confirmed that, while Dreamland is presently stymied from operating under Covid-19 restrictions, it will continue making fulfilling dream days and events for Ireland’s most vulnerable children.
“For the last few months of his life Dad was focussed on Ken and the climb and how brilliant he was raising money in such tough times, and Ken had struck up a big relationship with Dad as well, so it was great to see what Ken has done and how much he had raised, but there was a sad tinge today that Dad wasn’t here to see it,” Mr Kinsella said.
— COVID-19 —
“With Ciara and Dad passing away it was a double whammy, but with Covid we are leaving Dreamland closed for the next month or so, and we’ll see how the guidelines go. The problem that I have is that Dreamland is really interactive, kids play together, and they put on uniforms and so on, so we are trying to manage that,” he explained.
“One of the big things is, the kids that the Foundation helps would have underlying conditions, and they wouldn’t be in top health, so they have to be watched even more carefully, so there is a lot to it at the moment.”
A “number of ideas” are being considered for its much anticipated re-opening.
“Maybe we could look at individual families coming and give them the use of the centre, or individual schools benefiting from it, rather than immediately opening it up to the public.”
“Dad left it in good condition, and what Ken has done has bolstered it again, so there is definitely no plan to close down or anything like that, we are definitely going forward.”