Maynooth Peace Walk to Knock begins today with 13 year old from Leixlip youngest doing full walk for Barretstown

“Alice loved dancing, she loved life. She kept strong until she died.”

A 13-year-old Leixlip girl departed Maynooth in heavy rain this morning walking towards Knock raising funds for Barrettstown in memory of a North Kildare teenager who died from cancer.

Caoimhe Keegan(13), began the walk from the canal at Maynooth at approximately 11am this morning, and is due to reach Knock on Sunday, July 21. Her father Brian, and sister Aoife(10), will accompany her for two days and then her mother Kerry will join her.

The Peace walk, which is an annual pilgrimage, is this year being used by Caoimhe Keegan to commemorate the life of Maynooth teenager, Alice Flanagan, who passed away before her 16th birthday. The walk has already raised almost €2,000 for Barrettstown.

Caoimhe said: “Alice and her family received wonderful support from Barretstown throughout her illness.”

Alice's family are good friends with the Keegans.

Kerry Keegan, recalls, how Alice would say, 'you have to keep moving forward.'

Kerry said: “Alice loved dancing, she loved life. She kept strong until she died.”

In a moving you tube video, Alice, tells how she received a leaflet about Barrettstown while receiving treatment for cancer at Crumlin.

She said: “There was greenery everywhere, it was like having a normal big sister or brother, they would give everything to it, get dressed up in silly costumes. They are adults, 18 or 21, taking their whole summer out. When a child is sick with cancer, but one thing is that every kid gets their confidence knocked, some lose their hair, not going to school as much, not meeting their friends as much, when you go to Barretstown, you rebuild that confidence and gain even more.I climbed a massive wall, when I was at Barrettstown, it was like climbing my cancer.”

Alice is survived by parents Patrick and Fiona, sisters Olivia and Roisin, along with brothers Sean and Patrick.

Barretstown helps children and their families deal with the emotional and physiological scars often left after months and years of treatment. Hospitals treat the illness but Barretstown treats the child.

It offers a range of adventurous, fun and challenging activities which are supported behind the scenes by 24 hour on site medical and nursing care.

Training is provided for all volunteers. Spring and Autumn volunteers attend a training session prior to camp. The Nursing Director and two Senior Nurses are joined during the summer camps by two volunteer doctors and four to six volunteer nurses.

Working alongside the volunteers are our camp team, who are fully trained and qualified staff who run our Therapeutic Recreation camps and programmes.

In addition to the camp and volunteer teams, our staff team manage all aspects of Barretstown, from liaising with families to fundraising to finance.

Barretstown caters for childhood cancers, including Haematology related disease, Immunodeficiency related disease, Nephrology, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Gastroenterology,Neurology and Endocrinology.

More than two decades ago, Paul Newman had a vision: imagine if children living with serious illness had the chance to simply be children. To just have fun. So he started a camp where kids could, in his words,“raise a little hell.”

Today, Barretstown continues Paul’s legacy as an independently financed and managed camp.

Autumn applications are open for volunteers. The Autumn camps run September through December.

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