€50k raised for O’Neill family

By Aideen O'Flaherty

OVER €50,000 was raised for the O’Neill family at a shave-or-dye event in Aherne’s pub in Old Bawn on Friday.

The event was organised to help the family cover the cost of their son’s funeral, who sadly passed away aged 21 last month, and to help with the family’s expenses as they are with their daughter, who is now in hospital in Manchester.

ONeill Fund Raiser 007 compressor

Ali, Denise and Jody at the O’Neill family fundraiser

Dylan O’Neill, a past pupil of Coláiste de hÍde from Ellensborough in Tallaght, was diagnosed with adult metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) in December 2018, just five months after his older sister Serena (25) had been diagnosed with the condition.

The siblings’ parents, Noel and Sandra, realised something was wrong when Serena started showing symptoms of forgetfulness, including forgetting to put on her shoes or make-up, which led to her diagnosis.

After Dylan began displaying similar symptoms, he was also diagnosed.

While there is no known cure for MLD, undergoing a bone marrow transplant can slow the progression of the disease.

Dylan travelled to a hospital in Manchester in June to prepare to undergo the transplant, and Serena followed shortly afterwards.

Dylan sadly died last month, with his father Noel telling The Echo that his son’s death “will not be in vain” and that “countless lives will be saved” as a result of him undergoing the treatment.

The community got behind the O’Neills and fundraised in advance of Dylan and Serena going to Manchester for treatment. Following Dylan’s untimely death, the community has once again shown their support for the family at Friday’s event.

In advance of shave-or-dye, where people got sponsored to either get their hair dyed or shaved to raise funds for the family, family friend Ciara McGuigan set up a GoFundMe account to gather donations, which at the time of going to print has raised over €22,500.

The night itself, which was organised by Mary Hoey from Thomas Davis GAA Club and also included a raffle, raised over €28,000.

Ms Hoey told The Echo: “It was jampacked, it was a great night. We’re really thrilled with the amount raised and the people who came on board – it wasn’t just me, there was a big crew who helped out.

“The O’Neills said that they’re overwhelmed with the amount of money that was raised.

“It’s going to help them pay for Dylan’s funeral expenses, and also for their expenses because they’re in Manchester with Serena while she’s getting treatment.

“The community is so brilliant, every time you go to do something they always help.”

Ms Hoey also wanted to extend her thanks to the girls that helped her to organise the event and took part, and also to the two barbers who volunteered their time on the night. Donations are still being accepted on the GoFundMe page.

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