A LITTLE girl with a rare medical condition touched the heart of an Irish man living in Australia, who has put together a book on GAA stars in aid of expensive treatment that is only available in the U.S.
‘A Better life for Livie’ is the name of the campaign to raise €2million for one-year-old Livie, the only child of Donegal-based couple, Keith and Karen Mulhern.
Thanks to Sydney-based Damien Quinn, a big fan of the GAA, €2,000 was raised within a few days of his book, The Drawn Game, being released in Ireland.
Damien, of Limerick, is planning to launch the book in Australia. It’s just one of many fundraising activities for Livie’s treatment taking place. She was diagnosed with a rare and serious genetic neuromuscular condition, SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Type 1. This condition affects about one in every 10,000 babies.
The family are relatively close to the target with, says Damien, about €50,000 more needed. The treatment, Zolgensma gene therapy, has to be administered to babies under the age of two. It is not a cure but can improve the quality of life.
Damien, who has a 16-month-old daughter called Zoe with his Australian wife, had been planning a book on leading GAA players for a long time, but could never find the time to do it.
This art director with an advertising agency says when everything quietened down during lockdown, he was able to work on the book.
“The last seven weeks have been non-stop, trying to get the book done as quickly as possible,” says Damien.
He messaged more than 12 GAA players as well as artists to illustrate the book. Everybody Damien contacted got on board for the worthy cause.
Among the GAA players interviewed by Damien for the book are Tomás Ó Sé, Anthony Daly, Conor Moore, Graeme Mulcahy, Paddy Stapleton, Eoin Murphy, Sarah Rowe and Rena Buckley.
Cork camogie and football player, Rena Buckley, spoke to Damien, via Zoom, about what made her “fall in love with the GAA and her club career. She went into detail about all her different All-Ireland wins and celebrations. A lot of the interview was about her being a good female role model and how important that is to her.”
Kerryman, Tómas Ó Sé, spoke about playing for Nemo Rangers and how much he loved that Cork club.
The book’s subjects are illustrated by Irish artists, many from Cork, including John Sheehan, Brian Wilson, James O’Donovan and John Flynn.
“I follow these artists on social media. The book is a good opportunity to highlight the artists,” Damien said.
Self-published, his book was printed by CUBE in Limerick — for free.
“I got in touch with TJ Ryan, who used to play for Limerick. He runs CUBE printing. When I asked him to help out, he covered the printing costs. It was brilliant to get that support.”
Damien, whose hobby is art, produced some of the illustrations for the book, including one for the cover. He has been in touch with Livie’s parents who are “delighted at what I’m doing”.
He says there is “loads of interest in the book and hopefully, there’ll be interest in it here in Australia.”
Damien says the standard of the art work is incredible.
“The artists did it for free, which is pretty amazing. Some of their processes take longer than that of others.”
They all worked quickly to meet the deadline.
As the father of Zoe, the fundraising campaign struck a chord with Damien. The Mulherns, he says, “are only starting out their family. When something like Livie’s illness comes along, it throws everything into perspective.”
The Mulherns’ world changed forever on April 9 when Livie was diagnosed. Normal infections and illnesses such as a chest infection can be very serious for her, possibly even life-threatening. The Covid-19 pandemic is worryingly dangerous for the child. Karen will be Livie’s full time carer as she needs support all day. Her days and weeks are busy with medical appointments.
The Drawn Game costs €10.