Bighearted Irish in USA city throw weight behind local family

Diaspora gets behind Oscar campaign

By Kieran Hughes

It’s a story that has touched hearts and minds across Ireland. Now the campaign to raise funds for life saving cancer treatment for a brave North Belfast tot has spread across the Atlantic.

The family of Oscar Knox have already raised over £250,000 to help treat a highly aggressive form of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma.

Now a group of ex-pats living in Philadelphia, where the Hightown four-year-old travelled to earlier this year for treatment, have joined the fundraising campaign.

Brian McGarrity and his wife Laurie, who are originally from County Tyrone, have been the driving force behind a huge fundraising push by the Irish community in the US city.

A bake sale alone has raised $7,500 and a major fundraiser is scheduled for December 2.

Stephen Knox, Oscar’s father, said they have been overwhelmed by the incredible support they have received in Philadelphia.

“The Irish community has really pulled together for us and we are immensely grateful,” he said.

“We can’t thank them all enough. We couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams that we would have met so many kind and friendly people in such a short time here. To hear that the Irish community out here are going to host fundraising events to help raise money for Oscar is amazing.”

The December 2 event is already attracting huge attention in the Irish community, particlarly with the range of prizes lined up for raffle which includes a pair of Barry McGuigan’s boxing gloves, signed Celtic shirts and gift basket donations from local Irish entrepreneurs CelticClothing.com and Malham USA.

“The diaspora here in Philly are totally on board and rallying round,” said Charlie Lord from the fundraising committee.

“A special mention for Laurence Banville from County Wexford, president of the Irish Network of Philadelphia, for working closely with myself on getting the online ticket registrations up on the web, and for facilitating the fundraising efforts using their charitable status.

“However the driving force behind all of this has been Brian McGarrity and his wife Laurie. They have provided the momentum and Brian has shown commendable leadership in the Irish community during this process.”

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