A fundraising campaign, launched by the Rennie family from Larne, whose son Callum (age three) passed away on 30th May 2022, has raised almost £8,000 in just 72 hours – enough to purchase 15 wheelchairs to help children living with cancer.
Demonstrating the power of social media, Callum’s mum, Andrene, and dad, Graham, contacted Anna Corry of Blossomingbirds to ask her to share the initiative with her 100,000 online followers, but having fundraised for wheelchair accessibility in recent months, the social media influencer has joined forces with the family to help maximise their fundraising efforts.
Andrene Rennie said: “Callum was first diagnosed with cancer at just four weeks old. Sadly he relapsed in June 2021 and this time around, the treatment was very hard on him and he was very weak and wasn't as mobile. Thankfully, we had a wheelchair for him to use in the house so we could move him room to room.
We were lucky that Callum was still able to use a pushchair as he was a toddler, however for older children this isn’t an option and we know how hard it is to get specialised equipment. Last October, we started the process of trying to get Callum a wheelchair suitable for going out and about, but it wasn't until April of this year that it arrived, and he only had use of it for around eight weeks before he sadly passed away.”
In December 2021, the family’s friend, Chris McNaghten, set up The Big C Foundation in honour of Callum.
“The Big C Foundation is Callum’s legacy. It has given my husband Graham and I something to focus on during this very difficult time and through it, we are keeping Callum’s name alive. He touched so many people in his three short years and it is wonderful to know that he is still having such a positive impact on the lives of others.
We are in the position to know what families may need to help support them and their child during treatment. When battling such a hard fight, many children find it difficult to have the energy to walk any more than a short distance and some completely lose all power and ability,” Andrene continued.
It was such a shock to find out that some families can wait up to 10 months for a wheelchair to be made available and until then, a child has to be carried or put into a kids buggy that they are too big for. Families normally have to buy or rent a wheelchair and this is another burden when you’re already under financial pressure. In addition to this, we struggled to find availability to rent or buy a wheelchair in Northern Ireland and we know other families are facing this same issue.
Through the Foundation, we set out to raise enough money to buy 20 wheelchairs before the end of 2022. When I contacted Anna Corry on social media to ask if she would share our initiative on her Blossomingbirds page, I was delighted when she got in touch to say she would like to get involved and use her platform to help us get the word out there and help us raise as much money as possible. We met Anna and put a plan in action and within 72 hours, we have been able to raise enough money to purchase 15 wheelchairs – and this total is increasing by the hour,” Andrene continued.
The Big C Foundation was able to provide Carley Rowan’s son Jack with a wheelchair: “Having a wheelchair was the first step for Jack to gaining some independence back after losing the power in his legs through treatment. The difference it has made his moods is unbelievable. He has gone from spending every day in bed to being on the go non-stop! Knowing we can leave the house without him being in pain is such a weight off our shoulders. We're so grateful at The Big C Foundation as the day Jack got his wheelchair was the day we started to get our bubbly three year old back.”