We're delivering daily smiles to little ones all over the country
Tony Heffernan tells Brenda McCormick why sponsorship of the BUMBLEance provides hope for very sick children
Tony Heffernan, CEO of The Saoirse Foundation, tells us about the unique BUMBLEance service.
"BUMBLEance was launched in September 2013 and is the world's first fully interactive and most modern ambulance service for children. It provides stress-reducing journeys in a state-of-the-art, safe and fun vehicle," he says.
"It covers all corners of the country and is kind of like a paediatric intensive care transport unit designed to the highest medical specifications and has everything to eliminate stress including WiFi, the latest PlayStation games, an iPad and audio and video equipment on board," he says.
"Transporting a sick child can be extremely stressful and usually the logistics of such a trip falls to the parents," he adds.
"For many, a long distance trip in a car with a sick child is just not possible so thankfully on many occasions we have been able to come to the rescue," explains Tony.
One of the children who use the service is Ella Connolly (pictured above with her mum).
Ella will be two years old in April and has Miller Dieker Syndrome. Mum Sarah says: "With Ella's disability it would be extremely difficult to bring her by car. It means the world to us to lay Ella down for the three-hour journey and we know she's comfortable.
"Ella is very vulnerable at the moment. With all the appointments Ella has to attend in Dublin I honestly don't know if we'd cope [without BUMBLEance]," says Sarah.
BUMBLEance is a free service and operates at no cost to the families who use it.
"Since its launch," says Tony, "we have transported over 400 children from all parts of the country to and from primary centres of care with some using the service on a regular basis.
"BUMBLEance also provides Angel Trips. An Angel Trip is the final journey a sick child and their parents take together," he adds.
"The stress of such a trip is normally left on the shoulders of parents, however with BUMBLEance, this stress is taken away and the parents and the child can concentrate on spending as much quality time together during the child's remaining days.
"Our goal is to never be in a position where we cannot accommodate a sick child," he says.
"To date demand has been incredible, in fact, so much so, that we intend to launch a second BUMBLEance in April.
"Events such as the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon are so important to BUMBLEance.
"What's so special about this event is that we know that everyone taking part is doing something they really enjoy and all for a good cause," Tony says.
"We know that BUMBLEance makes such a huge difference to each and every family we help and events such as the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon allow us to continue on our mission - delivering smiles to sick children right across the country.
For more information, go to www.bumbleance.com.