Cliona’s Foundation

Pictured above, back row: Brendan and Terry Ring. Front row: David, Sarah, Jimmy and Mary Crowe.

Pictured above, back row: Brendan and Terry Ring. Front row: David, Sarah, Jimmy and Mary Crowe.

Brendan and Terry Ring are a Limerick couple who have endured every parent’s worst horror but have turned it into a story of hope. Their daughter Cliona was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and tragically passed away in 2006 at the age of 14.

Throughout the years of struggling to cope with their child’s terminal illness, they encountered others in a similar situation who also had to deal with the extra burden of financial limitations to add to the stress.

“We have met an awful lot of families who travel from all over the country to Crumlin Hospital,” Brendan told NewsFour. “They might have to do a return trip, which is a tough day, and even if they stay they will need toiletries and money for lunches. All these expenses start to escalate over time.”

Cliona’s Foundation began in 2008 to aid families of critically ill children with non-medical expenses. The foundation has raised €350,000 to date and has helped the families of 180 children.

David Crowe’s daughter Sarah suffers from the rare life-limiting condition, Alper’s Syndrome. At age 11, Sarah is the oldest living child with the condition. David is her primary care giver and speaks of his daily struggle to “keep going for Sarah’s sake.” The donation from Cliona’s Foundation has benefited the Crowe family hugely. “Terry made a donation to us, which enabled us to put down these rubber mats so that Sarah can go out and play and we don’t have to worry about her falling.”

Reflecting on Terry and Brendan, David said, “They’ve been through it themselves and there is an understanding there. It seems more personal. They actually care about who they’re helping. You feel like you’re on your own, then someone comes along and gives you something like this. It won’t make your daughter better but it will improve her quality of life.”

The foundation, whose patron is Miriam O’Callaghan, receives no government funding and relies on fundraising events, which take place throughout the year. Cliona’s Foundation believes that no family should have to face any added financial stress when already struggling with the challenges of caring for a seriously ill child.

Speaking about the aftermath of their tragedy, Terry Ring said, “The most striking thing to do was to help other families in their journey to look after their sick child.”

For more information, to make a donation or organise a fundraiser go to

Photo supplied by Cliona’s Foundation.

By Maria Shields O’Kelly