Specsavers Ballymena has become one of the first sponsors of The Big C Foundation’s fundraising drive to have their wheelchair purchased and donated to a local family.
Late last year, the Fairhill Shopping Centre store donated £500 to Andrene and Graham Rennie’s charity in memory of their son, Callum, to allow a special fleet of wheelchairs to be purchased and donated to families affected by cancer.
Callum passed away in May 2022 at just three years old when he was undergoing treatment. Callum had a small wheelchair for getting out and about in the final weeks of his life, which proved invaluable for the whole family.
The Big C Foundation was set up in December 2021 in honour of Callum, and has now raised enough money for over 40 wheelchairs to be purchased for young children undergoing medical treatment in Northern Ireland – double the original number the Rennies aimed to raise money for.
Jackie Douglas, Retail Director at Specsavers Ballymena says it was very important for her team to get behind this local initiative.
Jackie commented; “The Rennie family have touched so many people across Northern Ireland, and when we heard about the fundraising drive, we were determined to help and get involved.
“We look after the eye health of our local community, and so often, we see firsthand just how illness and treatment can take away the independence and mobility of a person, especially a child whose brain tumour has affected their sight as was the case with Callum.
“Having access to wheelchairs and accessibility is so important for care throughout treatment and recovery, so we’re delighted to be part of the crusade for equality and accessibility for families and young children across Northern Ireland.”
Jackie attended a recent coffee morning for sponsors at the Ballygally Castle Hotel, where their wheelchair was revealed.
Andrene Rennie, Callum’s mum and co-founder of The Big C Foundation which was set up by family friend, Chris McNaghten says they are overwhelmed with the response to their campaign.
Andrene commented; “Our original aim was to raise enough to purchase 15 wheelchairs that would help 15 families in Northern Ireland as we know the struggle that families have to go through to even access this kind of equipment. After partnering with Anny Corry of Blossoming Birds, the campaign went viral and we have more than doubled what we initially hoped to raise.
“We are so grateful to the individuals and businesses, like Specsavers Ballymena, who have donated and supported our cause. Thanks to them, there are families who have a little bit of physical, emotional and financial pressure off their shoulders, and have given their children a bit of independence back. That makes all the difference when you’re faced with the unbearable amount of stress that comes with a child’s cancer diagnosis.
“We are so honoured this is happening in Callum’s name and we’ll continue to keep his memory and legacy alive through The Big C Foundation.”