A Donegal mother has thanked the ‘amazing’ Make-a-Wish foundation for helping her little daughter thrive.

Áine Ní Dhuibhir, from Bunbeg, was just two years and eight months old when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in 2018.

Her mum and dad, Máire Ann Uí Dhuibhir and Tomás Ó Duibhir, were initially shocked and devastated at the news. However, together with Áine’s brother Seán (now 5), they rallied around their little princess in preparation for the long road ahead.

Thankfully the treatment, which she completed in 2020, was a huge success. But, between the treatment process and the Covid pandemic and successive lockdowns, the family never had a holiday together, except for a night away in Belfast.

Áine Ní Dhuibhir

That all changed when Máire Ann’s sister in law, Anne Marie Uí Icí, suggested she nominate Áine to the Make-a-Wish foundation.

To those unfamiliar with the charity, it says it has one simple aim – to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, to bring hope, strength and happiness. 

“So, thanks to Anne Marie, I nominated Áine in 2020,” Máire Ann told Donegal Daily.

“Then Covid hit, so all our correspondence with Make-a-Wish was via emails or Zoom calls.”

The charity sent out a ‘workbook’ to little Áine that she had to fill in so that they could establish her likes and wishes.

“She filled in the workbook, telling them she loved mermaids, princesses, palaces and the like,” Máire Ann continued.

“Unfortunately, due to Covid, they were unable to send us out of the country at the time. So, that ruled out Euro Disney in Paris. But, they eventually came back to say we were going to Center Parcs in Longford. We were delighted as we heard so much about the place and, as a family, had never been on a holiday before.”

Áine taking the jeep for a spin at Center Parcs..

Last year, finally, Make-a-Wish made their dream come true – an all inclusive five-day holiday at the midlands attraction. 

“We thought it was only going to be a weekend away, but it was from Monday to Friday which was amazing,” she continued.

“We had the use of the indoor swimming pool – Áine loves swimming – and she just learned to ride her bike without stabilisers two weeks before. As the centre is car-free, she had loads of space to perfect her cycling. It was an absolutely brilliant holiday.”

And they didn’t forget about Seán either – he got an extra large goodie bag, pocket money to buy gifts and loads of other treats.

Remembering what Áine had put in her workbook, the good people at Make-a-Wish shower her with gifts, including a nice warm and fluffy mermaid tail for her to climb inside.

Áine was delighted when she spotted a shop named after in Longford.

Máire Ann said her daughter, now 7, got a clean bill of health and is ‘thriving’, keeping her busy taking her to dance and music classes, to name but a few.

She paid a huge thanks to Make-A-Wish for giving them an ‘absolutely brilliant’ holiday, and just at the right time.

“The charity is not just about the kids, they are making a difference to families too so that they can make time for themselves,” she explained.

“Áine is in great form now, but some families will not have such a happy ending. However, thanks to Make-A-Wish, they can have some happy time together when they don’t have to think about illness.”

Máire Ann also took the opportunity to let their family and friends know how grateful they are for everything they did for them over the past couple of years. 

“They were all amazing,” she stressed.

Finally, she urged people to donate just €4 to the charity by texting MYWISH to 50300.

Alternatively, you can make donation online at www.makeawish.ie/donate