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Variety Club Brave teen with special needs who was turned down for ‘lifeline’ trike by HSE thanks beauties for coming to rescue

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Brooke has outgrown the trike that she can use to go outside with her friends

Brooke has outgrown the trike that she can use to go outside with her friends

Brooke, who has Rhett syndrome, was helped by Variety Ireland

Brooke, who has Rhett syndrome, was helped by Variety Ireland

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Brooke has outgrown the trike that she can use to go outside with her friends

A mother whose daughter with special needs was turned down for a 'lifeline' replacement trike bike by the HSE has thanked the Variety Club of Ireland for coming to their rescue.

And now a string of Miss Ireland contestants have come on board to raise money for the charity to help other kids in need.

The beauties are taking part in the National Make-up Free Challenge, which is an initiative designed to help raise self-awareness and promote "inner beauty" to people across the country in aid of Variety Ireland.

A batch of nurses and doctors from several Dublin hospitals, including the Mater, Tallaght, Hermitage, Crumlin and Temple Street, are also doing similar to support the cause

Brave Brooke Dunne (13) suffers from Rhett syndrome, a neurological disorder which affects only girls.

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Selection of Miss Ireland's taking part in the #makeupfree challenge

Selection of Miss Ireland's taking part in the #makeupfree challenge

Selection of Miss Ireland's taking part in the #makeupfree challenge

"It can affect girls in different ways at different ages. With Brooke, she never reached any of her milestones, she never crawled, sat up, or walked and the few words she did manage were taken away very soon in her life," explains her mum Julie, who lives in Bawnogue in Clondalkin, Dublin.

"Brooke was able to eat up until five but her swallow started to go and she was getting very sick with pneumonia from aspiration, so she had to start tube feeds which was very hard for us both.

"But the hurdle was put in front of us and for Brooke to be well we had to take the leap and work on a plan ahead which worked for us both. So we now enjoy cooking her meals together and she enjoys a very healthy blended diet with a few cheeky treats."

The teen loves the outdoors and used to enjoy horse-riding, swimming and even kayaking, but had to stop those activities when she got rods in her back.

"What she's crazy about most is her trike. She goes everywhere on it and loves to cycle down the canal with her pals," explains Julie.

"She can't stand up in her standing frame so being on her trike is not only a form of play for her, it's also a crucial part of her physio to keep her limbs and body exercised."

Brooke received her first trike from the HSE in 2016, but due to lack of funding they cannot provide her with her next bike as she's outgrown the first one.

"This has been a very big worry and caused numerous sleepless nights for me as I'm a single mom and can't work. I could not afford to give my daughter such an essential, both physically and mentally, piece of equipment," says Julie.

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Miss Dublin finalist Ciara Whelan

Miss Dublin finalist Ciara Whelan

Miss Dublin finalist Ciara Whelan

"I said 'how can you give a child a bike and then take it away from them, give them something that was so precious to them?'

"Brooke can't move, can't walk, can't talk. They said 'because your daughter can't facilitate her own movements, because you're facilitating her movements on the bike, it's not deemed a physio piece of equipment.'

"I said 'you need to go back to college, because my daughter cannot move or walk, so everything I do is facilitating her movement'."

Julie storms: "It's disgusting that they're coming up with excuses for why they're not funding a child something that they deserve and need."

A new trike costs from E1,500 to E5,000.

Brooke can't walk or move her legs or hands, and the trike has pulleys into which she can be strapped.

She needs different parts to hold her into position, which costs extra money.

"I rang Variety after hearing about them from a friend and got talking to Kevin O'Brien there and he said they would help, that the story was genuine and was for my daughter," reveals Julie.

"Hopefully Santa will arrive in time with the new bike, we're due to get it in the next eight weeks.

"Through the help of this amazing charity they have made Brooke's dream come true by paying for a new special trike so my daughter can continue to enjoy life outdoors.

"One of the many things I adore about Variety Ireland is it's run by volunteers who help raise money to fund ability equipment and educational tools like iPads and trikes for families with children with special needs."

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Geraldine Murray

Geraldine Murray

Geraldine Murray

Julie also praises the Miss Ireland girls.

"They understand what it's for, they understand that going without make-up for a day or two, what it means to our children, how they can raise money," she says. "More people should get on board, as out children are so precious."

One of the women involved in the new campaign is Ciara Whelan (23), a finalist in the Miss Dublin heat for Miss Ireland.

"Before lockdown I'd wear make-up every day, it would kind of be like a shield," admits Ciara, a recruitment consultant from Inchicore.

"But during lockdown I got a bit more comfortable in my skin. In saying that, when I was asked to do this I was a bit nervous because my skin is so bad at the minute.

"But then doing the challenge itself, it brought me out of my shell and it made me realise there's more than Instagram filters and to show younger girls that you're beautiful regardless, if you've make-up on you or if you don't. It was a really nice challenge to get involved in."

Represented by their patron, Simon Delaney, Variety is one of the oldest children's charities in Ireland and it celebrates its 70th anniversary next year.

The Make-up Free Challenge is sponsored this year by viberstore.ie and is supported by the Miss Ireland team.

Post your selfie and challenge your bestie to do the same. Don't forget to tag Variety Ireland in on your posts to Instagram and Facebook @varietyirl or Twitter @Variety_Ireland.

Full details are at varietyireland.org.

  • You can help Variety by donating €4 by texting the word MAKEUPFREE to 50300. SP: LIKECHARITY Helpline 0766 805 278.


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