Former Dundalk FC star overwhelmed by fundraising response

Patrick Flaherty

Reporter:

Patrick Flaherty

Email:

Patrick.flaherty@iconicnews.ie

Sonia Hoey

Sonia Hoey wearing the colours of her former club Dundalk FC

The family of former Dundalk FC star Sonia Hoey have told how she is overwhelmed by the phenomenal fundraising repsonse for her to get cancer treatment in Mexico.

The people of Dundalk and beyond have rallied to raise money for the sports star so she can recieve treatment in the Hope for Cancer Centre in Mexico.

After battling off stage three cervical cancer in 2019, last year Sonia and her family got the devastating news that it had returned, spreading to her lungs and having already gotten the maximum dose of radiation treatment she was given a 12-month diagnosis by doctors.

One last hope to prolong her life was found in her travelling to Mexico, where she could partake in non-toxic treatments such as immune therapy that could help shrink her tumours.

To do so her family needed to raise over €80,000 to send her on a three-week programme and her nephew Daniel Hoey was delighted to report they had smashed their original target with the GoFundMe Page already raising over €100,000.

“I don’t think you can really put into words what this means as we didn’t expect anything like this” said Daniel.

“We only expected up to €10,000 and then it would die down and the rest of the family would rally around to help her from there, but the way things are going we’ll be able to send her a second time, as she has to go back to review how she is getting on and if the tumours have shrunk.

“I think she is just overwhelmed, honestly her first reaction was just oh my god class, as Dundalk as you can get but she just thinks it’s amazing especially the reach that it has gotten.

“There are people over in Perth in Australia, people from all over the world contributing, I even seen Irish internationals putting money into it as she was close friends with the Ireland and Southampton physio Kevin Mulholland, and he spread the word so it is going global at this stage.”

The 42-year-old was a sporting prodigy, who won a WFAI Cup with the Lilywhites in 2005, captained the DKIT football team and played Gaelic with her club Dowdallshill before going on to make the Louth Senior team in a glittering sporting career across both codes.

The backing from the world of football has been huge, with Dundalk FC tweeting their support along with the LGFA , and even the International team got behind her cause with Diane Caldwell posting a video offering her support.

The whole town has also gotten behind Sonia and her family, with fundraising drives organised by the likes of XXI Ice, who donated a day’s takings from their shop to the campaign.

It was expected that it could make maybe make a few hundred at best but ended up being a huge success and other businesses have responded with their own fundraising drives to help Sonia prolong her life.

Daniel said: “The fundraiser by XXI Ice raised €2700 as the response to it was unbelievable, they opened from around half one and until 10 at night the store was packed, we went up ourselves, waiting outside and it was crazy to see the crowds there.

“Londis on the Castletown Road, somewhere myself and my cousin Chloe have worked in when we were in college, they are also donating all their coffee proceeds throughout a whole day to the Save our Sonia campaign.”

It hasn’t been easy for the woman who scored the winner in that WFAI Cup final, who has had to completely changed her diet as to give her the best chances of living a longer life before ever taking on the treatment available at the Mexican hospital.

She has significantly reduced her intake of sugars, as high glucose levels are known to feed cancer, while also implementing daily juice remedies into her diet as to boost her immune system that is down because of the chemo she continues to receive.

After extensive research, the family decided on going to Tijuana as many of their non-toxic treatments were unavailable in Europe, with the final call taken having consulted a former patient in Lynsey Bennett from Longford who had already gone through the process and got results and was happy to advise their family.

“The reason we picked this particular treatment is we cross referenced it with people who have actually done it and the different types of results they got.

“It is always different when you see someone who has gone and done it, Lynsey had gone there and how her tumours reacted to it positively, that gives you some sense of relief and you can take her word and advice on the place.”

Sonia's  family continues to be blown away by the community around her, with a plethora of businesses  donating prizes allowing them to be able to run raffles, with prizes including signed Dundalk, Ireland and Man United jerseys as well as hampers and vouchers.

Other initiatives include one by Graham Brodigan, who will run of one his famous Cheesy Quizzes over the May Bank Holiday Weekend, with the proceeds from the virtual quiz and bingo night all going to the Save Our Sonia campaign.

Meanwhile, Dundalk FC hope to break the League of Ireland attendance record virtually for the  Louth Derby against Drogheda United held last Saturday with tickets sold for €5 and all money raised going toward their former player’s treatment.

Sonia and her family are extremely grateful for all the support they are getting, along with the many warm and heartfelt messages of support left online and despite knowing she cannot be cured they are just hopeful they can get as much future time as possible to spend with their beloved Sonia.

Daniel said: “It is not curable this cancer and we know that but the whole idea is to get behind her and push this back as long as it can go, if we got a good few years out of the treatment we would happily take it and Sonia would happily take it, you couldn’t ask for much more.

“Even when I see how everyone is getting behind her, donating to the page it is hard to even ask for more as Dundalk has been so good to us, it has just been an incredible response and you can’t put into words how delighted we are and how glad Sonia is.”

Info on how you can donate to the cause, along with updates on her progress can be found on her new Instagram page Save Our Sonia and donations can be made on her GoFundMe page at https://ie.gofundme.com/f/save-our-sonia-sostreatment-in-mexico.