The older and wiser he gets, the more endearing he becomes. We’re speaking of the former “Lusty Leprechaun,” Colin Farrell, who wowed an audience at a benefit for Angelman Syndrome (AS) in Chicago on Saturday night.
Squeaky clean and looking like he stepped off a fashion runway, Farrell was the guest of honor at the annual dinner of the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics. Farrell, 35, has an 8-year-old son, James, who was diagnosed with AS several years ago, and he never misses an opportunity to help promote awareness and fundraising to find a cure.
“I come here as the very proud parent of an 8-year-old boy with Angelman Syndrome,” Farrell told dinner guests at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency.
James Farrell is the product of Colin’s relationship with former partner Kim Bordenave, and his first-born child is clearly the light of his life. James and others with AS face massive challenges, including seizures, motor difficulties and an inability to speak.
“(James) has made my life so much richer and so much more worthwhile and has given it such meaning that my life alone never had,” Farrell said.
The Dubliner puts his money where his mouth is when it comes to James and AS. He paid for 100 families so that they would be able to attend the dinner, giving them an opportunity to share stories with others coping with the rare disease.
Farrell said that he used to go to great lengths to keep James’s medical condition from the world. But he wanted to be honest when people asked him about the boy, so he eventually revealed all.
“I just thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s time. I just have to speak about him. And once I’m not protecting him, what’s going to happen if I speak publicly about his condition? Nothing really,’” Farrell said.
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Once Bordenave gave her blessing to discussing James, Farrell gave an interview – if memory serves, it was to the Sunday World in Dublin – to talk about his condition.
“The bottom line is he’s my boy,” Farrell said.
Researchers are working away to find a cure for AS, although some feel that a cure is not necessary because it infers that something is wrong with the child in question. Farrell’s love for James shone through during his speech, but he also made clear that he supports continued medical research which has apparently unlocked a way to cure AS in mice.
“It doesn’t mean that I think there’s anything wrong with James,” he said of research efforts. “It doesn’t mean I have any doubts about the foundation of his spirit. The foundation of his heart and the foundation of his mind are better and purer than mine will ever be. But there are aspects to his physical self that don’t do him any favors.”
In a public love letter to James, his proud dad talked about how he’s impacted his life.
“He’s kind of lifted me in that sometimes tremulous hand of his,” Farrell said. “I ain’t saying I’m a great man or nothing, but I’m getting to be about as good a fellow as I’m going to be. A lot of the reason is James has come into my life and gifted me the opportunity to look outside myself and to watch his every move, to watch his every difficulty and to watch his insurmountable spirit just forge ahead in life.”
A spokesperson for the foundation that hosted the dinner talked about Farrell’s decision to speak candidly about James.
“Colin has nothing to gain here. He wants to help other children. Every time he speaks about Angelman, another child gets accurately diagnosed,” Paula Evans said.
Those words, undoubtedly, mean more to Farrell than any glowing movie review or award. He surely has come a long way from his days as a tabloid staple.
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