Hey guys! I hope you are well. Welcome back to my blog 💫
This week I am coming to you with some very exciting news!! Back in February 2022 I was contacted by a wonderful charity called Cliona’s Foundation.
Cliona’s Foundation is a Limerick based national charity providing financial assistance directly to parents of children with life-limiting or chronic complex care needs across Ireland to help with the non-medical expenses related to caring for their child.
Cliona’s foundation was set up by Brendan and Terry Ring, following the death of their daughter Cliona, from an inoperable brain tumour in 2006 aged 16. Over the years, as Cliona underwent numerous different hospital treatments, Brendan and Terry were struck by the number of families, facing enormous financial hardship, on the brink of financial free-fall, blindsided by non-medical expenses piling up. Once Brendan and Terry became aware of this largely forgotten issue in Ireland, they knew they could not turn away, founding Cliona’s in 2007, whose mission is to provide financial assistance for ALL families struggling to care for children with a life limiting condition. Since its launch, Cliona’s Foundation has raised in excess of €2 million and has helped 1004 families across 31 counties. Cliona’s Foundation have no government funding and raise money through fundraiser nights, sponsored runs and bake sales, to name a few. They had an incredible idea that would be an amazing opportunity to raise some well needed funds for the charity.
I got to have a zoom call with the lovely Charlotte and CEO Brendan. We spoke about all the help that Cliona’s has provided to families since its launch in 2007 and Charlotte and Brendan told me about their exciting project that they wanted to bring to market and they wanted me to be a part of it. I was so honoured. As we were chatting, Charlotte and Brendan showed me a sneak preview of the trailer for their show that aired on Virgin Media last year and it left me speechless and in tears. I knew straight away that it would be my pleasure to help them with whatever they needed.
Cliona’s planned to launch a cuddly toy and they had partnered with Dunnes Stores, who manufactured 10,000 units and were going to stock the toy once launched. Also 100% of proceeds was guaranteed to go to Cliona’s foundation to help the families.
The toy was to be named Rory and he was an owl. The inspiration for the Owl came about through first-hand experience of the impact of anxiety on children. A member of Cliona’s board, who’s wife is a physiotherapist, was seeing a number of children present to her practice with physical issues but it became clear to her that the underlying issue was anxiety and so the concept of a toy you could bring to bed and help settle your mind was created.
Once the plan was in place I called on my team of experts and Evan Doherty agreed to do the photoshoot free of charge, thank you Evan. Aideen Feely did the styling, Jane Walsh did hair and Gorilla Productions, who I do the voice overs with for the Style Counsellors agreed to allow me to record the sleep story free of charge, thank you Mark.
The sleep story is a free to download and was designed for children to listen to at bedtime to help them relax for the evening and drift off to a peaceful sleep. Not only is Rory super soft and cuddly, his eyes are in the figure eight (or the infinity symbol) and the idea is for the child to trace this figure to help them relax.
I am delighted to say that the 10,000units of Rory the Owl is now completely sold out meaning over €80,000 was raised for Cliona’s Foundation!!! How INCREDIBLE is that! 100% of that money goes directly to Cliona’s.
Rory’s sleep story launched on November 17th and ran to December 31st. The total visits to Cliona’s website for the free download during this period was 13,806. Last year, for the same period, the amount of visits they had was 2,446. What a difference!!! Rory’s download story was downloaded thousands of times based on the massive spike in visits to the page.
You can listen to Rory’s sleep story here:
Once Rory launched we announced our partnership on Instagram where we reached over 324,962 accounts!
I was delighted to see the reaction online to Rory and also it was so amazing to be able to go into Dunnes Stores and see him on shelves!
It was an honour to be a part of Rory’s journey with Cliona’s foundation and it was my absolute pleasure to get to know Brendan and the whole team. Thank you guys for choosing me and to everyone who purchased a Rory or downloaded Rory’s sleep story, thank you for contributing to such a wonderful charity.