Family going the distance to raise money for charity

Path ahead . . . While Grace Quinlan is battling leukaemia her parents are stepping up to help other families. PHOTO: COURIER FILES

Rangitata couple Liam and Kaye Quinlan are stepping up for their special girl.

The Quinlans are taking part in the Ronald McDonald House to House Appeal this month to raise money for charity, and while they aimed to raise $7000, they are already well over target.

Their 4-year-old daughter Grace was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia late last year and required urgent testing and treatment in Christchurch Hospital.

Mrs Quinlan said Ronald McDonald House had been their home-away-from-home during that time.

During the first month of treatment the family had been split; while she and Grace had been in Christchurch, her husband and 2-year-old son Axel had been home on the farm.

‘‘Knowing that Grace and I were so close to the hospital, in a safe place with other families and with supportive staff and volunteers provided Liam a lot of comfort, as he wasn’t able to be there as our family still needed an income.’’

The children’s grandmother had taken five weeks off work in Ireland to fly over and look after Axel, allowing Mr Quinlan to continue working fulltime on the farm, getting up to Christchurch when he could.

‘‘Having this facility available and so close to the hospital has taken one stress away from us and has ensured we were able to focus on getting our daughter better.’’

‘‘This place really does show its takes a community to raise and look after a family.’’

The family continued to stay at the Ronald McDonald Charities Christchurch House on and off as Grace went through her diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

Mrs Quinlan said Grace was in Christchurch at present, in the middle of one of the hardest cycles — delayed intensification.

She said this cycle Grace has had covid, croup and a reaction to one type of chemotherapy which meant she had to switch to an alternative, which had to be administered three times a week for a fortnight.

‘‘She’s now on daily chemo again so we stay at Ronald McDonald during this time’’.

Mrs Quinlan said her daughter had lost a lot of hair, which had made her really anxious, ‘‘as she is a girl that loves Frozen’’.

Turning 5 next month, Grace is set to start at the Southern Health School with a teacher who visits the hospital. Her family aims to enrol her at her local school later in the year when she goes on to the maintenance phase treatment, which lasts about 18 months.

‘‘This will depend on her bloods as she needs to have certain levels so the common school illnesses don’t make her very sick. So it’s all a waiting game.’’

The House to House Appeal requires participants — signed up as individuals or teams — to clock up 210km, within the month of March.

The distance signifies the average distance travelled by a family staying at Ronald McDonald House to be with their child in hospital.

They were fundraising under the name ‘‘Liam Quinlan Team’’.

The couple said they were so grateful to everyone who had already contributed to their fundraising effort, no matter how big or small.

‘‘We were blown away by everyone’s generosity and how caring people were. We really do live in an amazing community.’’