Water Babies Launch ‘Splashathon 2023’

by Gazette Reporter
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Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school, is excited to launch Water Babies Splashathon 2023, which will raise vital funds for Children’s Health Foundation, supporting Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Connolly.

Children’s Health Foundation raises vital funds to support sick children and their families in Children’s Health Ireland hospitals and urgent care centres – from funding vital life-saving equipment and providing essential patient and parental supports to making ground-breaking, paediatric research possible.   

Water Babies are calling on little swimmers and their parents across Ireland to help support sick children and their families, through their sponsored Splashathon event, which takes place over the next two weeks.

At Water Babies classes around the country, children will each complete a sponsored swimming challenge suitable for their age and ability, dressed up as their favourite superhero in a specially themed lesson.  To get involved or donate, go to Just Giving – Water Babies Splashathon

Carol McNally, Water Babies, Ireland said, “Water Babies’ Splashathon fundraiser is a wonderful way to make a real and lasting difference to sick children across Ireland.   We are so proud to support Children’s Health Foundation with this year’s Splashathon and we’re very pleased to have raised over €131,000 for children’s charities since Water Babies launched in Ireland 14 years ago.”

Ruth Guy, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications at Children’s Health Foundation said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Water Babies are hosting their Splashathon event this year in aid of Children’s Health Foundation. It’s a great way for families to have some fun, while doing something really special for sick children in Children’s Health Ireland hospitals and urgent care centres in Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Connolly. Your support means we can be there for them, their families and all the teams who work so tirelessly to care for them, every minute of every day. You make that possible – thank you!

Stephanie Preissner, Writer, Broadcaster and Water Babies Mum is delighted to be involved in Water Babies Splashathon:  “As a new mum to Rori, I’m delighted to support this campaign. Children’s Health Foundation has had such a positive impact on so many families and communities across Ireland. Since becoming a Mum, it has brought home to me the amazing loving care they support.”

Dublin football player Philly McMahon is also supporting Water Babies Splashathon:  “I’m proud to support the Water Babies Splashathon. This is a cause close to our hearts as our own little one Leannain was under the care of Temple Steet when he was born. Thankfully he’s fit and healthy now thanks to the great care from the team at the hospital.”

Many little Water Babies have spent time in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Connolly, and are thriving now at their Water Babies classes, so we truly appreciate all the great work they do. 

Daisy Hughes – 16 months, Limerick

Daisy Hughes is 16 months and attends Water Babies at St Gabriel’s in Limerick. She was born in October 2021, at 23 weeks gestation, weighing just one pound. She spent six months in hospital in the Coombe & Crumlin in Dublin. 

She has fought through so many battles. She was resuscitated, had bowel surgery twice, necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) twice, had sepsis twice, two eye surgeries, lung failure, heart failure and a brain bleed.  And despite all her health issues, she is the happiest, most energetic, amazing baby. She is superhuman and loves swimming with Yvonne, her Water Babies teacher.

Pictured at the Launch are Philly McMahon, Laura Saunders, Corporate Executive, Childrens Health Foundation, Saoirse and Stacey McInerney and Carol McNally, Water Babies.

Saoirse McInerney  – 8 months, Dublin

8 month old Saoirse McInerney attends Water Babies classes in Harolds Cross.

When Saoirse was two days old she was diagnosed with severe developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). It was so severe that her left hip was completely dislocated requiring surgery in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin.   On the day Saoirse turned 8 weeks old, she went under general anaesthetic to have surgery to release the muscles around her hip and was then fitted with a full body cast, from chest down to both ankles.  When Saoirse’s cast was removed she went into an abduction brace which she wore for 8 weeks. She was able to have one hour per day out of her brace, allowing her to go swimming which was great for the movement in her hip.

Saoirse is now brace free during the day, and able to do anything another baby would do – she can roll over, sit up, and is starting to crawl. She still wears her brace at night, to encourage the socket to develop in her hip.  The whole Orthopaedic Department in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin are considered miracle workers by her parents. Saoirse is now a happy, strong and stubborn little baby!

Pictured at the Launch are Saoirse and Stacey McInerney.

Anastasia Twomey – 15 months, Dublin

Anastasia (Stasia) Twomey, is 15 months and swims with Sarah at Junction 6.  She absolutely loves going to her swimming classes with her mummy!  Stasia has attended Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street from birth for hip dysplasia. She had an unexpected diagnoses of bilateral hip dysplasia at birth and was immediately referred to Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street for treatment. The fantastic nursing team looked after Stasia so well on a weekly basis.  Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street was where Stasia first experienced the water because she couldn’t be bathed at home due to wearing her harness 24/7, so Stasia and her parents would attend clinic every week for checks, a bath and a splash, and a harness change.  Stasia was finished with her harnesses at 5.5 months and luckily, shortly after, started Water Babies classes at Junction 6.  Stasia’s hips will continue to be monitored for years to come, and her parents hope to continue to strengthen her hips in the pool through their swimming classes who said “We absolutely love our weekly swims with Water Babies and are so excited for the 2023 Splashathon!”

Max Alexander – 1 year, Waterford

Max was diagnosed with a hypothyroidism condition during the heel prick test when he was just a few days old. The condition is fairly serious and if left untreated could result in both mental and physical disabilities.  Thankfully Max was seen by the wonderful team in Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street when he was just 8 days old, and he now has a medication and health plan that has him thriving and living the life of a normal 1 year old.   Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street were exceptional with Max – they were also amazing with Max’s Mum as she was postpartum and had to travel from Waterford with her tiny newborn.

Ava Bowes  – 19 Months, Carlow

Ava Bowes is nearly 19 months old and swims with Water Babies in the Talbot Hotel in Carlow.  Ava has Down syndrome and had open heart surgery at 5 months old in Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin.  The surgery was to repair a complete atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD), a heart defect in which there are holes between the chambers of the right and left sides of the heart, and the valves that control the flow of blood between these chambers may not be formed correctly  Doctors had said before she was born that she might need to spend three weeks in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), however Ava was at home with her big sister after just 4 days! Doctors thought it would be difficult for Ava to gain weight and it would be a rough first 6 months of her life getting her to 5kg weight for surgery. However, Ava did gain weight and drank her mum’s breastmilk and was over 6kg at 5 months old for her surgery.    Ava does everything her own way and is meeting milestones every day. She adores swimming and has a super relationship with George her teacher! She holds on to the edge of the pool herself now and smiles coming up from her underwater swims!   Ava’s mum said “We will always be so grateful to the staff at Crumlin for looking after Ava before, during and after her surgery. She still attends Crumlin regularly for her sleep apnoea.” 

Doireann Barnes – 20 Months, Wexford

Doireann is 20 months old and she has been undergoing tests for epilepsy since she was 6 months old.  She had her first seizure at 6 months and since then, she has had 10 more.  She is now on medication which is thankfully keeping the seizures under control.  Doireann’s mum says “Every time we are in Crumlin, Doireann has received the best care  – every single person we have come across are so lovely and make you feel so calm.  We love our swim class it’s a great way to spend one to one time.”

Fionn Brophy – 18 months, Carlow

Fionn Brophy is 18 months old and he swims with Water Babies at The Talbot Hotel in Carlow. When he was 5 days old, Fionn broke his arm and after further Xrays and tests, it was confirmed that he had 11 broken bones.  Fionn was sent to Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street where he stayed for a week and was diagnosed with Osteogensis Imperfecta which is also known as brittle bone disease.  Roisin Maher, Fionn’s mum said “Swimming is great for non-contact exercise for Fionn helping to keep him healthy and strong. He loves his classes and always has a high five for George.”

Photo: Jenny Callanan

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