A brave Ballymena boy who is currently receiving treatment for cancer, was given a fun-filled experience at a special party held to salute the courage of all youngsters coping with the disease.
Nine-year-old Garron Donnelly was a guest of honour at the circus-themed Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards party, held in partnership with TK Maxx, at The Roof Gardens in Kensington, London, last week.
The extravaganza, featuring some famous faces, was organised to help raise awareness of the charity’s groundbreaking work in the field of children’s cancer research and the urgent need to boost funds.
Garron, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in May 2013, was one of 20 children from across the UK, who came together as special ambassadors to represent around 600 youngsters who have received Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens Star Awards in the last year.
He enjoyed an afternoon of crafts and games, honing his circus skills with activities including plate spinning, juggling and tossing diabolos, as well as ‘clowning around’ in a giant ball pit.
Garron and his family also met party host Stacey Solomon, before receiving a medal from the presenter and reality television star during a special presentation ceremony.
The day’s entertainment was rounded off with surprise performances from Britain’s Got Talent winners Ashleigh and Pudsey, comedy double act Johnny and Inel, and the cast of Horrible Histories live on tour, as well as Milkshake presenters, Derek Moran and Amy Thompson, plus their good friend Milkshake Monkey. Nanny Plum from children’s TV show Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom also made a special appearance.
Garron was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) on May 13, 2013.
His cancer was first revealed when his mum noticed a lump on the side of his neck – 4cm X 5cm which was painful and had a discharge.
Visits to hospital through up many possible diagnosis, including TB and at one stage doctors said the lump was shrinking.
However, his mum knew this was not the case and eventually, following a biopsy in May 2013, the family received the devastating news that Garron had Leukaemia.
He was given chemotherapy to shrink the tumour followed by steroid treatment and is now looking forward to September when all treatment will be finished.
His mum Ruth, 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 We’re so grateful for the treatment that saved his life. Success stories like ours would not be possible without Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work.”
The Star Awards are part of the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens fundraising campaign, which aims to accelerate research to find kinder treatments and cures for children, teens and young adults with cancer.
Jean Walsh, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens spokesperson for Northern Ireland, said: “It is a privilege to be able to recognise the courage of youngsters like Garron. He is a true ‘star’.
“Cancer has a devastating impact on children, forcing them to show incredible bravery beyond their years, so it was fantastic to see Garron’s smile light up as he took part in our circus-themed party.
“Our mission to save the lives of more children in Northern Ireland, and across the UK, relies on every hour of research, every pound raised and every person who gets involved. So we hope as many people as possible will be inspired to support the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens campaign and help bring forward the day when all children survive.”