FORMER US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton flew into Ireland last Wednesday this week to make a very special visit to Barretstown, the charity for seriously ill children, to be guest of honour at the Barretstown Founders Dinner to mark its 25th anniversary.
Barretstown was founded by Hollywood actor and philanthropist Paul Newman in 1994 and modelled on his renowned Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, USA. Secretary Clinton is a long-time supporter of the SeriousFun Children’s Network in the United States.
Today, Barretstown is recognised as a centre of excellence in childhood cancer care and other serious illnesses.
Commenting on her visit Secretary Clinton said: “Paul Newman just saw children who he thought deserved to have joy in their lives even though they were seriously ill, and Bill and I visited that first camp in Connecticut all those years ago and were just so overwhelmed by how joyous it was with all of these kids feeling like they were able to have the fun that you would have at a camp. I felt the very same sense of joy here today.”
Commenting on Mrs Clinton’s visit, Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown said: “It was such an incredible honour and privilege to welcome Secretary Clinton here today and to give her a tour of our facilities in County Kildare. Secretary Clinton met with members of our camp team and some of our campers as they took part in activities including our high ropes course, archery and arts and crafts and they were all very excited to meet her. Secretary Clinton is a huge supporter of the SeriousFun Children’s Network and she was very keen to come to Ireland to see our camp. We are so grateful to her for taking the time to come to Barretstown to mark our 25th anniversary and for her ongoing support.
“Childhood stops for seriously ill children and here at Barretstown we press play. We believe that every child with a serious illness should enjoy their childhood. Our programmes are delivered entirely free of charge and this would not be possible without the support we receive from our founders and our long-term supporters. I think that if our founder Paul Newman could see Barretstown today, he would be pleased to see that his vision is alive and well in Ireland.”
Guests at the Founders Dinner included Barretstown’s Patron, Mrs Sabina Higgins who has been Patron for five years. Minister for Health, Simon Harris also attended along with many individuals who were instrumental in the establishment of Barretstown.