A Monkstown woman is to take part in a special day of fundraising events in memory of Carrickfergus schoolgirl Rebekah Bunting.
Leanne Dawson will have her waist-length hair cut on July 31 in aid of the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children.
The fundraiser was inspired by former Woodlawn Primary School pupil Rebekah, who sadly passed away on August 10, 2013.
Rebekah was diagnosed in June last year with DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), a rare inoperable tumour in the stem of the brain.
Her condition deteriorated rapidly and Rebekah spent the last few weeks of her life - including her ninth birthday - in the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in Newtownabbey.
Leanne explained: “My niece was good friends with Rebekah at Woodlawn Primary School and my brother and sister-in-law know her family well, so I really wanted to do something to raise money for the NICFC.
“I have always had very long hair and when I was searching online for fundraising ideas, getting your hair cut for charity was one of the top ones that came up.
“I’ve set myself a target of £1000 for the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children and I’ve already raised £850.”
As well as generating much-needed cash for the Belfast-based organisation, Leanne’s hair will also be donated to the Little Princess Trust.
The Trust provides real-hair wigs to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment.
Leanne’s fundraiser will take place on what would have been Rebekah’s tenth birthday.
It will also coincide with a number of other fundraising events organised by Rebekah’s family, who since last year have been at the forefront of a campaign to raise funds and awareness of DIPG.
The Bunting family has already surpassed their initial target of £10,000, which will be used to replace the outdoor play facilities at the Children’s Hospice.
A Facebook page set up by members of the family as a tribute to Rebekah reads: “[DIPG] is a disease in which we had never heard of until Rebekah was diagnosed, and for that to be the case in modern society just isn’t good enough.
“There is currently no cure for this deadly disease, with no advancements in treatment for over 30 years.
“We hope to raise enough funds firstly to replace the outdoor play gym in the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, then eventually to be in a position to support the families based in Northern Ireland who face the horror in which we have just been through.
“Anyone who met Rebekah will know that she was a special little girl, who always put others before herself.”
To donate to Leanne’s fundraising campaign, visit her Justgiving page at www.justgiving.com/Leanne-Dawson/