Matthew Magee is one of 87 children in Donegal to have had their most cherished dreams come true, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The charity, which relies entirely on volunteers and donations, grants wishes to children battling life threatening medical conditions such as cancer, brain tumours, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy and many others.
Matthew, now 14, was diagnosed at age 8 with a craniopharyngioma brain tumour which left him visually impaired, and damaged his pituitary gland, which means he is on hormone replacement for life. The Raphoe teenager has had four surgeries and radiotherapy treatment. He continues his follow up in Crumlin Hospital with endocrinology and ophthalmology.
His mother Marilda told the Democrat that he was born with perfect sight, but it deteriorated as the tumour grew.
A year after Matthew's diagnosis, members of the Ulster Scots Agency Juvenile Pipe Band visited his school, Raphoe Central NS, and he got his first introduction to one of his great passions - drumming.
He quickly signed up for free drumming classes, given through the agency, and loved every minute.
"He couldn't wait to get out and join in the parades," Marilda explains, "that was always his dream.
“But you need to have your own kilt, waistcoat, shirt etc, and that all adds up."
That's where Make-A-Wish stepped in. Last August, the charity transported Matthew and his family to a hotel room directly facing Edinburgh Castle and brought them to The Kilt Store, where he was completely fitted out from head to toe.
Not only that, Matthew and the family were given tickets to the world-famous Edinburgh Tattoo, where he was brought behind the scenes to meet many of the bands and even play with The Top Secret Band. "It really was a dream come true," Marilda recalls.
Matthew, who relies on his hearing to learn all the rhythms for the songs, is still practising away, because he has another dream in store.
"He's hoping to travel with the Ulster Scots Juvenile Pipe Band to France in August, but that depends on how well he keeps up the practising," Marilda smiles.
Make-A-Wish Ireland's fundraising Wish Day takes place on Friday, April 8th, with volunteers selling badges across Donegal.
Irene Timmins, Head of Fundraising for Make-A-Wish said, “A successful Wish Day will enable us to grant more wishes to children living with life-threatening medical conditions. We have brave children on our waiting list from Donegal and with the support of people from throughout the community, Make-A-Wish can grant the wishes to these deserving children.”
To learn more, visit www.makeawish.ie, ring Barbara Kilbride on 01 2052012 or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org