Soccer star’s solo run to show laughter the best medicine

A kind-hearted teenager from Ashbourne who set herself the task of doing the 10,000 kick up challenge for charity says she “wanted to give something back” to a cause that helped her when she was seriously ill as a young child.

Fifteen-year-old Amy Spratt was diagnosed with Wilms tumour, a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children when she was just six-years-old.

After spending more than a year in hospital undergoing numerous gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy along with an operation to remove the tumour and kidney in 2011 Amy thankfully made a full recovery.

Now the thoughtful third year student in Ashbourne Community School wants to do something to give back and help other sick children and came up with the idea to take on the challenge to “raise funds for Aoife’s Clown Doctors Ireland” a charity that provides professional actors to entertain vulnerable and sick children on the wards at Crumlin and Temple Street Hospitals.

She has raised over €2,500 for the charity.

“I spent over a year in hospital so the charity I picked was Aoife’s Clown Doctors because clown doctors used to come into my room to entertain me and brighten my day," said Amy.

“I remember getting my face painted and did things like make balloons and made fun of my mam and dad.

“I’ve played soccer for my local team Ashbourne United since I was seven or eight so that’s why I wanted to do the Kick-Up Challenge.

“Everyday I would do 334 kick-ups, I would do some in the morning before school and some after my homework in the evening.”

Amy says she is feeling great and “grateful” to be so well. She added:

“Every three to five months I was going back for hospital appointments now my doctor has pushed it out to one year appointments and my last one was the first week in December and everything was fine thankfully.”

Amy and sister Ellen with the amount they raised (so far)

Amy’s mum Carol describes how her daughter received the shock diagnosis.

“She was perfectly fine in our eyes up until the day before she was diagnosed, she didn’t present with any symptoms of a child with a Wilms tumour, the only symptom she had is that she went to bed the night before and went up to use the bathroom and she passed a little bit of blood.

“The mammy instinct kicked in and I decided to keep her off school that day and take her to the doctor and within a matter of three hours, she was in Temple Street by that afternoon she had been taken by ambulance to St John’s Ward in Crumlin Hospital.

“My husband David and I were in absolute shock. It’s only when you think back, we are blessed how far we have come with her.

“That was in November 2011 and by Christmas she had had four rounds of chemotherapy and a five-and-a-half hour surgery to remove her tumour and her kidney.

“We were told that she’d need another twelve rounds of chemotherapy and eleven rounds of radiotherapy and she had a whole year of treatment on St John’s Ward.”

So brave...Amy and her time on the St John's Ward

The clown doctors made a huge difference to both the parents and children at a dark time as Carol who is also mum to Ellen (12) explains:

“She has great memories of the clown doctors coming into entertain her while she was in the hospital, it brightened the mood for the children and the parents.

“We know the family and we know Aoife’s parents whom the charity is named after.

“Aoife passed away in 2012 and always loved the clown doctors and her parents have great memories of hearing their own little daughter laugh as she got visits.

“Not long after Aoife passed away, they found out that the clown doctor rounds had finished, they had no funding so they took it upon themselves then to start fundraising to bring them back into the hospital.”

“She is doing fantastic now and it is her chance to give back.

“Amy got us through it with her strength and determination.

“We encourage her now to go out and live life and take every opportunity and run with it.“

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