The local community has come together in recent weeks to support a fund raising campaign in aid of Ashbourne woman Laura Hickey, who is suffering with a rare form of cancer.
Launched in early April, The Laura Hickey Fund aims to raise €60,000 to help pay for potentially life-saving treatment at a specialist cancer hospital in New York. A number of local fundraising events are planned for the coming weeks, and a secure online donation platform has recently been launched.
In just a few short weeks the Fund’s facebook page has attracted almost 3,000 likes, with enormous support coming from the communities in Ashbourne and Ratoath, where Laura worked as a primary school teacher until she was diagnosed in 2010.
Laura, now aged 29, began working at St Paul’s National School in 2006, after earning her degree. But in 2010, at the age of 26, her world came crashing down when she was diagnosed with mixed-cell lymphoma, a very rare form of cancer.
Laura’s case has been further complicated by an underlying hereditary spleen condition (spherocytosis) which impedes her post-treatment recovery and leaves her prone to potentially fatal infection. In 2012, she spent a month in an induced coma after contracting pneumococcal pneumonia.
Sadly, Laura’s treatment programme has achieved only intermittent success to date, and in late 2013, she received confirmation that her cancer had returned for the third time in four years. This was devastating news for Laura and her family.
Laura is now being referred to the world –renowned Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York for a more expert opinion on her diagnosis, treatment plans to date and her post-treatment recovery programme.
According to Laura’s mother, Ursula Hickey, a key outcome from the trip would be to secure a comprehensive treatment plan for the future, should the need arise. This trip represents Laura’s best chance of returning as soon as possible to a normal, healthy life, she says.
In order to make the trip to New York a reality, a committee of Laura’s friends, colleagues and loved ones came together to set up the fund and ensure that Laura is given the best chance at making a strong recovery. The committee, which includes Laura’s long time partner Ronan Cawley, has organised a two-month calendar of events for May and June during which they hope to achieve the fundraising goal of €60,000.
Coming up on Friday, 9th May is the Laura Hickey Fund Coffee Morning at the Ashbourne House Hotel. The coffee morning runs from 10:30am-1:30pm and will feature a raffle and fresh baked treats. All support is very welcome.
And shaping up to be a great night out for the ladies is the 'girls’ night out’ clothes swap at Swan’s of Curragha on Thursday, 15th May, starting at 6:30pm. The lounge will be turned into a glamorous shop for the night and the snug into lovely tea rooms. Entry is €5, and each attendee can bring up to five items of clothing or accessories (in good condition) for the swap. For each item brought you will receive one coupon which acts as your currency in the 'shop’.
There will also be manicures and make-up done on the night, so you can take a break from 'shopping’ to have your shellac done or sit down to chat over tea and cakes.
Many local ladies will also be 'Leggin’ it for Laura’ at the women’s mini marathon on Monday, 2nd June, in Dublin. Sponsorship cards are available for anyone who would like to be involved, please email email@example.com
The main event of the campaign is the Laura Hickey Summer Ball, scheduled for Friday, 27th June, at the Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne. The night promises to be full of glamour and great entertainment, and will be a great start to the school summer holidays. Tickets are priced at €75 and are available from any member of the committee or you can get in touch through the website, www.thelaurahickeyfund.com
Donations can also be made through the website, or directly to the fund’s account at Ulster Bank, Blanchardstown. Account name: The Laura Hickey Fund. IBAN: IE44ULSB98502111990568 BIC: ULSBIE2DXXX
Not only is the Fund being supported by Laura’s large circle of friends and extended family, but the greater Ashbourne and Ratoath communities, especially the school community at St Paul’s where Laura is so well adored.
St Paul’s principal Morag McGowan says that the Fund provides people a great opportunity to really help Laura to get well. “Laura is a beautiful person and a wonderful teacher,” she said. “In the four years she was in the school she gave her heart and soul to the school and to the children in her care, and we all love her for it. Everyone whose life was touched by Laura has watched helplessly for the past few years, and now we can all do something real and worthwhile to help.”
Please see www.thelaurahickeyfund.com to make a donation or to learn more.