DONNA Lynn from Ballymena is well known for her charity work both during her son Mark's illness and in the wake of his devastating death.
Mark Lynn, aged 8, was known as Ballymena's Heart Warrior. The little boy was born with complex congenital heart disease and underwent four open heart surgeries and numerous cardiac procedures in his short life.
Despite his own struggles with his health, the Ballykeel Primary School pupil was committed to raising money and awareness to help others and officially opened the new British Heart Foundation store in Ballymena.
His parents Donna and Geoff have continued his legacy, establishing the Mark Lynn CHD Foundation.
Donna (46) said she has always loved music and so did little Mark.
LOVE OF MUSIC
Music played a big part in their home, with both Donna and Mark revelling in a variety of different music genres.
Donna said: "I’ve always been a musical girl, loved my music from no age.
"My song I loved, and still to this day, is 500 miles by The Proclaimers.
"Top of the Pops was the big thing back in the day - I’m showing my age!
"It was on BBC 1 and I was sitting patiently with my younger sister Mandy, hairbrushes ready as mics, waiting to blast out our song-, even a bit of Footloose was thrown in!
"And still to this day, being married 29 years coming to Geoff, and having four great sons, 500 miles still blasted through my house until the day that Mark passed away and now nothing.
"Mark loved his music. When he was in the shower the whole neighbourhood heard Mark's music , from old tunes that made a come back to country.
"He loved 'Country Roads, Take me Home' by John Denver. This is poignant as it certainly has taken him to the place where he belongs, free from pain and free from surgeries.
"I know to some that might sound selfish, but Mark suffered from Complex Congenital Heart Disease and had heart failure in 2015.
"His body went through so much from the age of three weeks old until aged 8 years when he gained his angel wings.
"Now, don’t get me wrong it never stopped him from doing things he loved, only he couldn’t play football, ride a bike for hours on end, but as long as he had his music the world was his oyster!
"As a result of Mark's passing the house was, and still to this day, has never been the same. No more blasting music while singing in the shower
"It really did take its toil on us all. From hospital stays, hospital appointments, over 30 medications to nothing.
"It was so hard, and still is, to adjust.
"Music played such a big part in our lives. Here are my top ten songs. Not only did I grow up listening to all these, but Mark was such a music fan, he listened and sung his heart out to these as well".
Top Ten Songs
1 : 500 miles - The Proclaimers
2 : Footloose - by Kenny Loggins
3 : I wanna dance with somebody - Whitney Houston
4: Take on me -A-Ha
5 : Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
6 : I want to break free - Queen
7 : I don’t wanna miss a thing - Aerosmith
8 : We built this city - Starship
9 : Human - Human
10 : Fight song - Rachel Platten
Donna continued: "I was talking to Geoff about doing something in memory of Mark because Mark had such an impact on so many peoples lives, even in school and hospital.
"He was a true hero, fighter and an inspiration to all that knew him, even new parents coming into hospital and the not knowing, Mark was always there, talking to them.
"So, we wanted to help families in the same situation as ourselves, but we took it a step further and set up a foundation in his memory”.
MARK LYNN CHD FOUNDATION
"Mark Lynn CHD Foundation Is 100% non profitable, 100% dedicated to children and 100% dedicated to supporting parents.
"We also offer support to families like ourselves that have lost their little warrior.
"Since starting out in February of 2019, the response this year has been fantastic - from kids disco events, 80/90s nights, and most importantly the people that have fundraised and people that have donated,.
"We’ve helped and supported some great children and parents. Yes, a few heartbreaking situations we’ve been hit with, but we have had to pull ourselves up and keep going.
"We’ve also been doing 'Making memories at Christmas'.
"At the minute we’ve supported over 15 families, their warriors and their extra siblings.
"We’ve also been planning 'A magical Christmas' event with Enchanted Events N.I for children with disabilities that find it hard to be among a big crowds.
"This is an invitation only event on Wednesday, December 4 at 3.00pm and there are only a few places left.
"So, all in all, with the help of my truly amazing husband Geoff, sister Mandy and absolute best friend Pamela we will get Mark's Foundation out across Northern Ireland”.
"Our mission is to put a smile on a sick child face, who suffers life threatening chronic illness, to make them as happy as possible and to get fundraisers on board to enjoy what they love doing.
"We want to make people more aware that these life threatening illnesses don’t go away.
"These children fight hard and sometimes we have happy endings and sometimes we don’t , but while there’s breath there’s hope.
"So all I ask, even if we have to travel 500 miles, please consider Mark's Foundation for 2020 and help us keep going to see what our next adventure could be to help these children.
"We cover seven life threatening chronic illnesses - Congenital Heart Disease, Cystic Fibrosis Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Asthma, Epilepsy and Cancer.
"And there’s always a different life threatening illness that comes to families.
"So give a little/help a lot You can contact me anytime on 07731932267
“We are always here to offer our support".