"We couldn’t have gotten through the 513 days in hospital without the love and support we had from the staff and other families at the house."
The Mulligan family from Limerick, including their lovely daughter, Sophie, are urging the Irish public to give a hug, and a donation, to a great cause, this weekend. Once a year, The Ronald McDonald House Charity appeal for people to “send a hug” to loved ones in time for National Hug Day, Sunday, January 21.
The story of baby Sophie Mulligan, and her family, from Athea, County Limerick, is one that perfectly captures what Ronald McDonald House is all about. Since opening its doors, 20 years ago, the 'House' enables families, including siblings, to stay together and be actively involved in a child's day-to-day life while they are in hospital (in Crumlin, Ireland’s largest pediatric hospital).
Sophie was born in August 2022 and has spent every day since then as an inpatient in Crumlin Hospital. Apart from a solitary two-day visit home, Sophie and her parents, Melissa and Alan, have been living in The Ronald McDonald House. On Tuesday of this week (January 16) they finally headed back home, to Limerick, after a 513-day stay. Melissa said:
"The Ronald McDonald House has been home for our family since Sophie came into our lives... It’s hard to describe how one house can mean so much to you, but when you are faced with over 500 days in a hospital that is 250 kilometres from home, you soon come to realise the importance of a place like this. The House allowed us to put all of our focus on Sophie and alleviated worries like - where we were going to stay each night, where our next meal was coming from, how were we going to afford this. The list goes on and on.
"Having a base that was only a few minutes from Sophie’s hospital bed provided us with peace of mind that was priceless. We couldn’t have gotten through the 513 days in hospital without the love and support we had from the staff and other families at the House. No two days are the same when you have a child in hospital and our Ronald McDonald House family were always there to celebrate the good days and comfort us through the bad.
"Sophie being the face of National Hug Day this year feels like a real celebration. After such a long journey we’re finally going home."
To mark National Hug Day 2024 the charity is asking people to send Barróg, the Irish for hug, to someone special in their life and support families whose children are seriously ill in hospital. All proceeds from the purchase of Barróg go directly to the families staying at The Ronald McDonald House.
On top of this, every person who sends a hug in time for Hug Day will be entered into a competition to win a holiday worth €5,000.
To send someone special a big Barróg hug, visit www.rmhc.ie. Each Barróg gift set, including a Barróg bunny, personalised gift card and gift, can be purchased for a special price of €10 (ex p&p).
Each person who sends a hug will have the chance to win a holiday worth €5,000. The winner will be announced on Monday, January 22. All proceeds from the purchase of Barróg go directly to supporting the families of sick children staying at The Ronald McDonald House.
This article originally appeared on Joe.ie.