More than US$600,000 was raised to benefit sick children at the 5th Annual Best of Ireland Dinner on Tuesday evening, with Graeme McDowell again acting as Honorary Patron at the New York Athletic Club.
The former US Open winner and four-time Ryder Cup player has served in such a capacity since the event's inception in 2012. McDowell’s G-Mac Foundation partnered with the Children’s Medical Research Foundation (CMRF) to bring the Best of Ireland event to New York City four years ago.
The CMRF, established in Ireland in 1965, supports the needs of Ireland’s largest children’s hospital — Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital at Crumlin, Dublin. To date, the Best of Ireland dinners have raised in excess of US$2.7 million, which has helped to fund the building of a new in-patient cardiac unit at Crumlin Hospital caring for more than 500 seriously ill children each year.
It's something I'm really proud of. Graeme McDowell
“When I began my foundation, I wanted to focus efforts on something that was very directed and measurable," said McDowell. "It’s truly amazing to see how the funds raised have gone to improving the facilities at Crumlin, and more importantly, help the children and their families heal. People resonate with the cause and I am so thankful for all the generosity.”
The highlight of Tuesday's event came when Noel O’Connell took the stage to tell the story of his son Ollie, who had been cared for by Crumlin Hospital. Born with a Congenital Heart Defect, Ollie had six open-heart surgeries in the first 18 months of his life. Noel expressed his gratitude for the excellent care his son was given at Crumlin and for the fundraising efforts that enabled the hospital to provide his son a chance at life. “It’s your big hearts that have mended so many little hearts,” said O’Connell.
In addition to supporting Crumlin Hospital each year, the G-Mac Foundation brings children recovering from serious illnesses and their families from all over Ireland to Florida for a holiday of a lifetime. Ollie and his family were one of the many families who made the trip. To date, the G-Mac Foundation has raised $3.3 million to benefit sick children since it was established in 2011.