A Ballymena boy, who suffers from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, has been granted a super-yacht Super Wish in Monaco by the Make-A-Wish charity.
Garron Donnelly (nine) was diagnosed with the condition in May 2013 after developing a painful lump in his neck. While going through treatment, he also lost his baby sister, Peggy, during surgery to correct a congenital heart condition.
It was a really tough time for Garron but one small thing that helped him, and his parents Ruth and Colin, was being referred to Make-A-Wish(R) UK.
Garron, who loves watching ‘Top Gear’, chose for his wish to visit Monaco because it was one of the road trips that the programme’s presenters had featured. His wish became a truly magical reality when Make-A-Wish arranged for him to stay in a hotel with a swimming pool in Monaco and companies like yacht brokers Burgess, Bell Helicopter and Rolls-Royce stepped in to make the experience “second-to-none!”
His mum Ruth said: “The whole thing was absolutely fantastic! Garron got given loads of goodies and then he was taken to one of the biggest sailing ships and went up in the crow’s nest with his dad – they were about 60 metres high! Garron totally sees himself living this kind of lifestyle and we say go ahead and think that, there’s no harm in it! Memories aren’t easily made and you can’t just make them up. We’ll never forget this though. The work that was put into it was second-to-none and we appreciate it so much. Garron’s face just said it all as we arrived. These are real memories that will stay with us for a long time.”
She said: “I can’t even begin to explain how it feels to be told your child has cancer. Garron’s diagnosis turned our lives upside down and our first thoughts were that we were going to lose him. When you go into a room and there are six people there waiting to speak to you, you just know it is bad news. The consultant said to pack a bag for a month and within a matter of four hours our whole lives changed.
“Peggy was born on December 9 and she went to London for open-heart surgery on December 21. She died on December 23, her daddy’s birthday. We were all devastated and after everything Garron was going through, he’d lost his baby sister too. To have Garron’s wish after all that was just amazing.”
Georgina Menheneott from Burgess said they were only too happy to be involved in Garron’s wish, adding: “The opportunity to do something outside of our normal day-to-day business that gives back to someone in need is something we don’t often have the chance to do. Garron and his family had already suffered so much in his short life, so to show him something of the extraordinary world we are fortunate to work in was a great opportunity.
“Everyone, from yacht owners to yacht crew who heard Garron’s story were only too happy to participate and we are extremely grateful to the kind captains who pulled out all the stops for us. Burgess has fantastic partnerships with Rolls-Royce who provide VIP transfers for our clients at the Monaco Show and with Wahoo who run a tender service out to the bay in Monaco where over 100 more yachts are lying at anchor. With these great teams we were able to give Garron our best VIP welcome and as we whisked him out to the anchorage you could see how excited he was! He said he wanted to be a tender driver when he grew up and just to see his face light up was really special. After a long day exploring I think the yacht crews and the Bell team had armed him with enough kit to get a job with us next year!
“The stories we heard from the brilliant Make-A-Wish team really make you stop and think. We work in an incredibly privileged industry and often with very kind and generous people. This was a lovely chance to give Garron, just starting out in life, a peek into what we do, and put a big smile on his face at the same time – and that’s something money can’t buy!”
In 2017 Make-A-Wish aims to grant 1,000 wishes like Garron’s and the charity receives no government funding, so every donation really does count. To make a donation or to become a #WishMaker and help make wishes happen, visit the website: make-a-wish.org.uk or telephone 01276 40 50 70.