REPUBLIC of Ireland and Everton star Seamus Coleman has donated £5,000 to help make a brave West Belfast boy’s dream of meeting his football heroes come true.
Dáire Flanagan from Turf Lodge was born with a rare genetic condition known as Apert Syndrome. Doctors said he wouldn't survive 48 hours, but he is now a thriving, happy six-year-old boy who loves the Everton FC.
Dáire’s condition means that his family have never been able to have a foreign holiday and the only time Dáire has ever been on a plane has been when he was travelling on air ambulance.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News Dáire’s mum Colette said: “An old neighbour of ours called Ciaran Rogan set the fundraising page up to get Dáire to see Everton.
“We thought that maybe there was a possibility that he could be a ball boy and that we would cover the expenses, but this has been amazing. When I found out about Seamus Coleman’s donation I started shaking and crying, his generosity is unbelievable.
“Our Dáire is such a star now and he makes us proud every day. Just look at all the awareness he is raising for Apert Syndrome, that’s what this is all about, awareness.”
Colette added: “At the minute we aren’t too sure how we will get Dáire to the match, going by boat might be our best option.
“The journey might be a bit much for him as his concentration isn’t great, the match won’t be until next season so we will figure it out by then.”
The man behind the campaign to get Dáire to Goodison Park is Ciaran Rogan.
“Me and my friends were having a conversation one night saying we wanted to help one person in our lives, just one person trying to make a difference to someone else and it snowballed from there.
“I just went for it and set up a page. I’m an Everton supporter and I know how amazing Everton fans are and how generous they are.
“Then Seamus Coleman messaged me through the page saying he wanted to help Dáire and can’t wait to meet him.
“We’ve had donations from all over. Hotels have been in touch wanting to put him and his family up, local taxi drivers have agreed to run them about when they’re in Liverpool, there are businesses here as well wanting to help. It’s just unbelievable.”
Ciaran said that former Everton and Republic of Ireland player Kevin Kilbane then started tweeting about Dáire and that has also caught people’s attention.
Colette is extremely grateful to everyone who has taken Dáire into their hearts. Colette said: “I keep breaking down crying because everyone knows Dáire now and everywhere we go people want to meet him. He is loving the attention!
“I remember feeling so alone when I first had Dáire and he was fighting for his life, even though me and his daddy had our families around us we felt helpless.
“But looking at him now and what he’s achieved and how much people have taken to him just fills my heart with pride. Is it any wonder I can’t stop crying? I’m so proud of my boy.”