School principals are being asked to have a ‘no homework day’ in exchange for pupils doing random acts of kindness in order to raise funds in memory of a nine-year-old girl who died after open-heart surgery earlier this year.
Béibhinn O'Connor, from Riverstick, who had a rare congential heart defect, survived the major surgery. However, she passed away on September 16th after a cardiac arrest during a routine post-operation procedure.
Her parents Irene and Eoin are asking principals to row in behind their efforts to raise money for the Make a Wish Foundation.
The charity has been badly impacted in terms of fundraising during the Covid crisis.
Irene says that Béibhinn had a smile that lit up a room. She is seeking solace in raising funds for Make a Wish and promoting acts of kindness in what is a dark and lonely time for many around the country.
"Béibhinn was all about having the craic and the laugh. She loved the Toy show and was obsessed with Ryan Tubridy!
"The one thing she couldn't cope with was homework so she would love this.
"Ideally we would love if every school in Ireland took on a challenge. Instead of giving the kids homework some day next week that their homework would be to do a random act of kindness.
"It can be things like helping your parents around the house. I would like Facebook to light up with these random acts of kindness. I want children to think about being kind.
"They do something kind. But then they come in and talk about what they did and that idea is planted in the other thirty kids in their class. Hopefully that will instill kindness in them.”
Irene is also hoping that every child who takes part in the challenge will donate €1 or €2 which is collected by the schools for the Make a Wish Foundation.
"In Béibhinn's school there are 958 students. That will pay for a wish for a sick child. Wishes generally cost about €2,000. This year is very difficult for every charity. But Wish kids can't wait. It is not something they can do. They have a big backlog of wishes they need to grant.
"How incredible it would be if every school took part? That is every school in Ireland granting a wish to a Make a Wish foundation child. There are kids at the moment who could die without their wish being granted."
Irene is finding solace in promoting acts of kindness following the death of her daughter.
She runs a company that brings Erasmus students to Ireland. However, that business has screeched to a halt in a time of Covid.
Irene was used to being on hand for the medical needs of her only child Béibhinn 24/7. She was plunged in to complete darkness when she died.
"I went from the busiest person I know because Béibhinn had a lot of medicine and care and running my company to nothing. I was going crazy after she died and then it came to me. I was at her grave and I said to Eoin that ‘ there must be something we can do. She can't be dead.’ Then we just came up with the idea of random acts of kindness because she was so incredibly kind. She loved animals and kids. She would be going mad if anyone was upset. She was always joking around.
She has raised €12,500 already (for charity) on her page www.theheartangel.com and people are also donating directly to the Make a Wish Foundation.
Béibhinn is our angel now and she is watching over us. Hopefully she will spread her kindness."
Béibhinn spent her 4th birthday in Disneyland Paris where she met all her favourite characters. She was delighted and proud to have her photo shared by 'Make a Wish' to help them raise funds to help other children in her situation.
The Foundation helps to fulfill the wishes of children with critical illnesses between the ages of 2 1/2 and 18 years old.
Donations can be made to the Make a Wish Foundation at https://www.makeawish.ie/donate?gclid=CjwKCAiAzNj9BRBDEiwAPsL0d0sUck9k9sXi5WHmM87yDn6l2jrxDFpfQN7D4VWsSVDzw33nSv9hDxoC3HkQAvD_BwE Alternatively donate at https://www.theheartangel.com/supported-causes