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Dublin GAA legend John O’Leary shares how his family was brought ‘out of a black hole’ by Jack & Jill

John’s youngest son Tom (12) was born with a rare chromosome disorder and heart condition.

Dublin GAA All Star and Jack & Jill Dad, John O’Leary and Jack and Jill staff who are asking Dubliners to shop local and support 92 Dublin based Jack and Jill families currently under of the care of the charity across Dublin. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Former GAA All Star John O’Leary has revealed how the Jack & Jill Foundation brought his family “out of a black hole” in the early years of caring for his youngest son.

Tom (12) was born with a rare chromosome disorder and heart condition that requires specialised support and home nursing care.

"Jack and Jill really got us out of a black hole in the early years.

"They were a lifeline to our family,” the double All Ireland winner said, “as we navigated the difficult journey of dealing with Tom’s care needs, while also juggling work and family life.”

The former Dublin goalkeeper opened the new Jack & Jill charity shop in Artane with his son Tom today.

Dublin GAA All Star and Jack & Jill Dad, John O’Leary and Jack and Jill staff who are asking Dubliners to shop local and support 92 Dublin based Jack and Jill families currently under of the care of the charity across Dublin. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

"I’m encouraging my fellow Dubliners to drop by to shop and donate clothes, home wares, toys or LEGO which has become a care currency for us too.

"We are also looking for more people to volunteer for a few hours each week and it’s great to see so many transition year students getting involved already.”

The funds raised from the shop will go towards providing in-home nursing care for young children as well as respite support and end-of-life care.

Pictured at the opening today of the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation’s first Dublin-based charity boutique in Artane is former Dublin GAA All Star and Jack & Jill Dad, John O’Leary who is asking Dubliners to shop local. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

"We have a mammoth fundraising hill of €1 million to climb before the end of the year, to keep our vital service going, so all help is welcome, needed and appreciated,” said CEO Carmel O'Leary.

The charity must fundraise €6 million per year in order to keep providing the 120,000 hours of nursing care to children who need it.

Jack and Jill depends heavily on public donations to fund their service that has no means test and no waiting list.

Over 400 children across the country currently benefit from this care.

The charity shop opens as the Jack & Jill Christmas appeal is underway, with hopes to hit the €1 million mark through donations and special gifts.

"We have a big fundraising mountain to climb to keep us going to Christmas, and beyond, and we need the public to support local Jack and Jill families in their community by signing up as a monthly donor, or by buying something from our Christmas Gift Collection”, Ms Doyle said.

"There’s lots to choose from including stunning candles from Paul and William Costelloe, our ‘Odlums Big Book of Baking’, Incognito Art Prints, signed by our wonderful Incognito artists, Gift of Time cards and exclusively designed Christmas cards from Kildare artist Laura Dempsey aka Pickled Pom Pom.

"By making a donation or purchase people are supporting local families through home nursing care hours that translate into a real gift of time this Christmas”, she added.

The charity was set up by parents Jonathan Irwin and Mary Ann O’Brien in memory of their son Jack.

Their toddler passed away at home at the age of 22 months in December 1996.


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