Newtownabbey family’s one million steps for ‘our butterfly’

A Newtownabbey family have undertaken a huge challenge in support of a charity close to their hearts.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 5:24 pm
Robert and Aaron.

Robert Keown and son Aaron committed to ‘One Million Steps in March’ – the equivalent of 472 miles - in memory of their beloved daughter/twin sister Adelle, who sadly passed away in July 2020, and to raise money for CLIC Sargent

March is a poignant time for the family as it was in this month in 2018 Adelle was diagnosed with acute

myeloid leukaemia (aggressive blood cancer). She had to have a transplant in October the same year and

Robert and Adelle.

then in March last year Adelle got the gut-wrenching news that she had relapsed. On July 10, 2020, she lost her battle and passed away peacefully in her sleep with her family by her side.

Adelle wanted to work with charities as she knew how much they had helped support the family when they needed it.

CLIC Sargent’s Homes from Home service provides a place close to principal treatment centres for families impacted by cancer.

Robert said: “CLIC Sargent helped us so much. Adelle first got diagnosed with Acute Myeloid leukaemia in March 2018 when she was 15. Her 16th birthday was in April, so as she was still in hospital CLIC Sargent arranged for us to have a birthday party in Paul’s House for her and her twin brother.

Robert with his butterfly T-shirt.

“When Adelle went to Bristol for her stem cell transplant in October 2018 CLIC Sargent again helped us by getting us a room in Sam’s House which meant we could stay together as a family. Sadly Adelle relapsed in March 2020 and passed away in July.

“March isn’t going to be an easy month for us as a family so we thought this was a perfect challenge, please donate anything you can. I personally know how much this all helps families.”

You can make a donation by texting ADELLE to 70085 (to donate £5, texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message).

When children and young people are diagnosed with cancer, normal life stops. Treatment is intensive and emotionally gruelling; and can last several years. It often takes place far from home, isolating them from their normal environment.

Families, the charity explained, have to travel from across Northern Ireland to access specialist treatment at the Belfast City Hospital and The Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children. On average they have to make a 60-mile round trip each time they have a hospital appointment.

The Homes from Home provide free accommodation to the immediate family whilst their child receives treatment. CLIC Sargent currently has 10 homes throughout the UK, in Northern Ireland they have two, Paul’s House and Amy’s House. Often families like the Keowns have to relocate to Bristol to receive treatment too, and will stay at stay at either Sam’s House or CLIC House.

Robert said: “Without CLIC Sargent houses I don’t honestly know what we would have done. It took the stresses away from us and meant we could focus on Adelle.

“They are a charity really close to our hearts and we can’t thank them enough.”

During the challenge Robert has been wearing a CLIC Sargent T-shirt on which there is also a butterfly image.

He explained: “Just before Adelle passed I said to her ‘fly away wee bird and come back as a butterfly’. The next day we were outside and several butterflies came to sit with us, this not only happened to us but other family members, we know she is near when we see one.”

Vicki Ewart the fundraising engagement manager for CLIC Sargent Northern Ireland, said: “We can’t thank the family enough for doing this amazing challenge and for highlighting the charity, they are so inspirational. They have nearly reached their total which is incredible.

“When cancer strikes young lives we fight tirelessly to limit the damage it causes beyond their health. We rely entirely on donations to fund our vital work and so we really appreciate these donations and for highlighting the charity.”

Last year in the Newtownabbey area CLIC Sargent supported 30 children and young people and their families from diagnosis throughout treatment and beyond. Fourteen of those families stayed at either Paul’s House, close to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, or Amy’s House, close to the City Hospital in Belfast and five families also stayed at Bristol Homes from Home. The longest stay at Paul’s House was 104 days.

Emphasising that cancer isn’t stopping for coronavirus, CLIC Sargent added that young people and parents have told the charity they’re struggling to cope, and they need its support more than ever.

If you would like to know more about CLIC Sargent or are interested in fundraising or volunteering, contact Vicki on 07771 818660 or [email protected]

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