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Rose of Tralee International Festival launches partnership with Cliona’s Foundation ahead of ‘Camino for Cliona’s’ trip 

Rose of Tralee International Festival launches partnership with Cliona’s Foundation ahead of the Roses and Rose Escorts “Camino for Cliona’s” trip in Portugal / Spain on April 26th.  

The Rose of Tralee International Festival announced their new partnership with Cliona’s Foundation (a national charity supporting families with seriously sick children all over Ireland) this week. The partnership was launched in Killarney with Rose of Tralee, New York Rose, Roisin Wiley who is currently in Ireland as part of her role with the Festival.  

Roisin is now an ambassador for Clionas Foundation and will be joining a cohort of Roses and Rose Escorts in walking the Camino De Santiago to raise funds and awareness this April. All funds raised will go directly to providing financial support to the families that Cliona’s support.

Cliona’s is a national charity providing financial assistance directly to parents of seriously sick children with life-limiting or chronic complex care needs across Ireland to help with the non-medical expenses related to caring for their child. Since 2008 the foundation has provided financial assistance to over 1300 families.

The foundation was set up by Brendan and Terry Ring, following the death of their daughter Cliona, from an inoperable brain tumour in 2006 aged 15. Over the years, as Cliona underwent numerous different hospital treatments, Brendan and Terry were struck by the number of families, facing enormous financial hardship, on the brink of financial free-fall, blindsided by non-medical expenses piling up. They saw at first-hand the enormous toll it took on these families, already struggling to cope with the nightmare of having a seriously ill child.

Joining the Roses from Arizona, Wexford, Boston New England, Toronto, Carlow will be Escorts from Mayo, Limerick, Kilkenny and the USA and co-founder of Cliona’s Foundation, Terry Ring. Terry walked the Inaugural Camino for Cliona’s with 36 transition year students from all over Munster last June. This year 101 students have signed up to walk the Camino for Cliona’s from all over Ireland. The route the Roses and Rose Escorts will walk is 120kms, beginning in the Portuguese city of Valenca and finishing in the Spanish city at the Cathedral in Santiago De Compostela.  

Speaking of the Festival’s reason for getting involved with Cliona’s, Festival Director Suzan O’Gara said “The Rose of Tralee Festival is delighted to partner with Cliona’s Foundation. The foundation is a wonderful charity who provide crucial financial support to families who are caring for a child with a serious illness. Roisin and I recently met a family supported by Cliona’s and learned first-hand how much relief the financial support provides.  The Rose class of 2023 are so excited to be getting involved and to be able to walk the Camino to raise awareness for Clionas Foundation, and to show solidarity with the many families all over Ireland who need this help. Supporting charitable work is very much at the heart of what our Festival does – a Rose really can make a difference. We are thrilled to be able to shine a light on the great work Cliona’s Foundation does, and to support such a worthy and meaningful cause through this new partnership”.

Speaking about the importance of fundraising events for the organisation, was Cliona’s Co-Founder Terry Ring: “So many of these families experienced, and continue to experience, the significant non-medical costs of caring for a child with a life-limiting condition. We are incredibly grateful to the Rose of Tralee International Festival for recognising this issue and pledging their support. I am very much looking forward to joining such wonderful people along the Camino. We need support more than ever, this year again, we have seen yet another increase in applications from the same period last year”.

A recent survey conducted by Cliona’s shows how families with sick children are often disproportionately affected by situations out of their control, such as rapidly increasing living costs. These are parents who are in a living nightmare and the last thing they should have to worry about are bills. Cliona’s survey found that in 70% of families, at least one parent must give up their jobs to care for their sick child leaving them struggling to cope. Studies have highlighted that a family will need between €10,000 and €15,000 a year to cover various non-medical costs while their child is ill.

During Róisín’s visit, the Rose was delighted to meet one such family in Killarney, the Howards. Their two year old son Seán was recently diagnosed with a progressive genetic condition which means he needs a lot of care. 

Commenting on the visit, Róisín said: “I am very proud to be an ambassador for Cliona’s and to support such a worthy cause. The Howards are such a wonderful family, Sean is a bright and loving boy. It was a real privilege to spend time with them and to learn about the love and care they give to Sean and his brother Dan. I am so excited to be walking the Camino to raise much needed funds for Cliona’s Foundation to help families throughout the country”.

Cliona’s Foundation expects a record number of families will apply for financial assistance this year and will need to raise a minimum of €700,000 to meet these applications. To support the Roses and Rose Escorts, please visit this link:


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