PEOPLE IN Athy and Nurney have rallied together to support a little girl who is undergoing treatment in Germany for a serious illness.
Three-year-old Sophia Conway is in Essen where she is undergoing proton therapy after being diagnosed with a brain tumour (ependymoma) in December. Numerous fundraisers have been organised by both communities to help pay for the extensive costs involved.
Sophia and her parents, Michelle Kelly and Martin Conway, have to stay in Germany for the next nine weeks while she undergoes the specialised treatment which is a form of radiation therapy.
A soccer match between Athy Town and Nurney, a benefit concert in the Clanard Court Hotel, fun runs, coffee mornings, a table quiz, raffles and business fundraisers have all been organised to raise funds for the worthy cause.
Sophia’s first symptoms began in October when her parents said she started vomiting.
“Up until this, Sophia had never really been sick and was a happy bubbly little girl,” said her dad Martin.
The vomiting continued and doctors first thought it was a viral infection. “It didn’t pass; it only got worse as she was suffering from pains in her head, was losing weight and was very pale all the time.”
An X-ray detected mild acid reflux so she was put on tablets but symptoms persisted and a scan in December confirmed her parents’ worst fears.
“Surgery was scheduled for 19 December, the longest day of our lives,” said Martin. “We were so relieved when the surgeon came in to say the surgery was successful and he had removed the tumour.”
Martin and Michelle were later told that their daughter would require further treatment but the type of treatment (proton) was only available in Germany. They thanked the Gavin Glynn Foundation who immediately stepped in to help with the costs and organisation, allowing the couple to focus solely on Sophia.
Sophia, who started her treatment on 30 January, was originally meant to stay for seven weeks but due to an infection she will now have to remain in Germany for nine weeks.
“She’s in great form,” said her aunt Alison. “They have to wait and see how the infection clears up so they are taking it day by day now.”
Numerous fundraisers have been organised to help cover the costs involved. Athy Town will take on Nurney in Aldridge Park on Saturday 24 February at 7.30pm, with an auction, raffle, music and food afterwards in The Duke in Athy. The match is being organised by Sophia’s uncle, former Kildare footballer Mikey Conway, and will include some big names like Anthony Rainbow, Dermot Earley, Emmet Bolton, and Damien Hendy.
A table quiz will take place in O’Brien’s of Nurney on Saturday 10 February at 8pm. A table of four costs €40.
A coffee morning was held in Conlan’s of Booleigh on Thursday and a benefit concert will take place on 15 February at 8pm in the Clanard Court Hotel. Tickets cost €10 and there will be a raffle on the night. Local GAA clubs will host fun runs on 4 March at 11am, Shining Stars Academy is hosting a number of events and Spar in Nurney will hold a fundraising day on 20 February.
Gillen Jewellers is donating €2 with every watch battery fitted between now and St Valentine’s Day and The Salon in Athy is raffling off a hamper, a GHD hairdyer and straighteners and Pettitt’s SuperValu in Athy and J-One Café held fundraisers during the week.
Anyone who wishes to donate can do so directly to account no: 65484763, sort code: 900965, bic: BOF11E2D, Iban: IE04BOF190096565484763.