Oscar Knox has become an international phenomenon with his outstanding bravery and strength. At only four years of age, the wee Irish youngster from Belfast is fighting neuroblastoma - a rare form of aggressive childhood cancer which affects one in every 100,000 children.
At great expense "wee Oscar" and his family recently travelled to Philadelphia for ground breaking treatment at CHOP. Here the family received whirlwind support from the Irish community in Philadelphia. Although Oscar and his family have since returned to Ireland, the campaign continues.
The US involvement and support essentially came from the social media efforts of the people back in Ireland.
When the Irish people of Philadelphia first heard that wee Oscar was traveling overseas for further treatment, the Irish community got together to help out. A committee was put together and made up of Brian McGarrity (Tyrone), Laurie McGarrity (Tyrone), Charlie Lord (Belfast), Gary McDonald (Armagh) and Roger Power (Dublin). The committee, along with the rest of the Irish community went to endless lengths to help and support the family while they were in Philly.
Irish food baskets were sent to the hospital, as well as many Irish people to visit. One man, Mick Treacy from Lochmacroy even offered the Knox family his home for the duration of their stay. In Havertown, which has a large Irish population, a bake sale was organized after mass, which raised $7,500. Several other raffles and events went on to raise funds in the community. Local business donated prizes.
The main benefit event took place on Sunday December 2nd at Tir Na Nog, downtown Philadelphia.
IrishCentral spoke to Charlie Lord, one of the members of the organizing committee following the event. "The day was a great success. We raised over $27,000. Six weeks of preparing really paid off. A lot of work went into it. Local bands donated their time, local businesses contributed and we received tons of celebrity endorsements. Barry McGuigan sent his boxing gloves over, Celtic FC, Manchester United FC Liverpool FC and All Ireland champions Donegal all donated signed jerseys. The list is endless of the amounts of goods we received."
The family have returned to Ireland where Oscar is steadily improving, but the fight still goes on. His chances of beating cancer still lie abroad and he will need to receive more treatment once he is well enough. Oscar’s dad Stephen responded to the incredible support they received and said they were, "overwhelmed and immensely grateful."
Although money raised in Ireland for the Neuroblastoma charity can defer some medical bills in Ireland and the US, treatment still is an incredible cost. Not only that, but both Oscar’s parents have taken time out of work to look after their son. Charlie Lord stressed that all money raised in Philly is to go straight to the family, for everyday living, regular bills, mortgage, etc, and of course for Christmas which is a delicate time for any family with young children.
Support for Oscar Knox also stretched across state lines to New York. Barry Lennon of Woodlawn in the Bronx travelled with friends to the benefit in Philadelphia where he outbid locals and came away with a signed Man United jersey.
To keep the charity alive, a five hour walk/run is taking place on Saturday December 15th from 10am-3pm at Juniper Park, Middle Village, Queens to help raise funds. Everyone is welcome to join and show your support. A charity head shave and wax night will follow in Luke Kellys bar in Queens at 8pm. Wristbands and t shirts are also on sale in the bar.
A small change for us, means a big change for Oscar.