Grieving family raise £15k in memory of little Alannah
The family of a little girl whose life was cut short by a brain tumour have raised over £15,000 to support other families in Northern Ireland.
Carla Downey from Bessbrook, Co Armagh, has opened up about losing her beloved three-year-old daughter Alannah to a brain tumour on July 26, 2012 in an effort to encourage others to raise money for the Cancer Fund for Children.
Carla and husband Lee have thrown themselves into fundraising because they want to "give something back and help other families who are going through what we went through".
The family have raised more than £15,000 from taking part in a bog run, a Night at the Races, street collections and bun sales.
The money has been split between a number of children's charities including £6,000 to help the work done by the Cancer Fund for Children.
Carla said: "We are very aware of the needs of children and families with children diagnosed with this horrible illness and we know this money will go a long way in helping to make some things a wee bit easier for those who unfortunately need it."
Carla (28), a care assistant and mum to the couple's 11-year-old son Keelan and five-month-old daughter Carleigh Alannah told the Belfast Telegraph their feelings of loss will never go away but it brings them some comfort to help others.
"Keelan has his down days too," Carla said.
"We talk about her a lot. He misses her an awful lot."
Alannah was diagnosed in January 2012 and sadly died that July.
"I will never forget the day she collapsed at home," Carla said.
"She was in her uniform all ready to go to school.
"Her daddy had to resuscitate her while we phoned for an ambulance.
"They brought her in and found that her little brain was filled with blood. She had taken a massive stroke and suffered a brain haemorrhage.
"She was then diagnosed with a fast growing and severe brain tumour and required a 16-hour surgery to remove it."
After the operation, Alannah was in a coma and had to stay in an Intensive Care Unit for seven months.
The consultant told the Downey family the team had removed the vast majority of the brain tumour but a scan three months later revealed it had returned.
Carla explained why she and her family are committed to fundraising for the Cancer Fund for Children.
"While we were in hospital a lady from the charity came and chatted to us and gave us leaflets," she said.
"We decided we wanted to give something back and help other families who are going through what we went through."
She added that they are "urging the Northern Ireland public to dig deep this Christmas and help Cancer Fund for Children provide support to other local families affected by cancer".
Cancer Fund for Children's Director of Services, Liz Osborne, welcomed the call.
"At Christmas time, negative issues a cancer diagnosis brings can become exaggerated such as loneliness and financial strain," she said.
"Cancer Fund for Children strives to alleviate this by providing home heating and other financial grants as well as organising various Christmas events to bring families together."
You can help the charity raise funds by donning a festive jumper for this year's All Wrapped Up Campaign.
For more information or to sign up, log onto cancerfundforchildren.com or call 028 9080 5599 to find out how you can help.