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Bike ride in honour of Baby Luca raises thousands for sick babies 

Family and friends of a baby who lived for just 5 months after birth have raised thousands for Irish families in a similar situation by cycling 90km on the Waterford Greenway marking the Irish leg of a 'Lap for Luca' initiative. 

Baby Luca Foley was born to John Foley, a Dungarvan man, and his wife Liz in Chicago in September 2022. The little boy had been diagnosed with Trisomy 18 early on in the pregnancy and his parents said they knew he was "a fighter from the get go, and we knew in our hearts that this little miracle was coming to us for a reason."


John and Liz named him Luca which means Bringer of Light, and said they "continue to be amazed and humbled by the ways Luca has brought light and love into our life". Baby Luca lived for 5 months, and sadly passed away in February of this year, after bringing his parents on what they described as "a journey of faith and hope that has and continues to bring us so much love and gratitude".

To honour their beautiful little boy, and to help other families who face a diagnosis of a life-limiting condition, the Foley family, both in the U.S. and in Ireland, decided to undertake a 'Lap for Luca' challenge to raise badly-needed funds for supports when baby may not have long to live.



While John Foley cycled 954 miles around Lake Michigan in September, friends and family in Dungarvan turned out in great  numbers to cycle the Waterford Greenway, hoping to help Irish support group, Every Life Counts who offer information and assistance to families  facing such a sad loss.

"It was such a beautiful sight on a clear and bright September morning," said Vicky Wall of Every Life Counts. "So many cyclists and friends, all coming together in Baby Luca's memory, standing in solidarity with John and Liz in Chicago, and remembering this precious little boy and acknowledging what a gift he was and the love he brought to the world."

While the cycle Stateside raised funds for the hospital which has helped Luca live for five love-filled months, the Foley family decided that the efforts in Dungarvan would assist the work of Every Life Counts whose services help parents to cherish every moment they have with baby before and after birth.

We are so grateful that the cycle raised just over €4,000 for the work Every Life Counts and will help so many families," said Vicky Wall. "It was such a heartfelt event, you could feel the grá for baby Luca and the desire to help little babies like him, it had a profound effect on everyone there."


The cheque was presented to Ms Wall in the Every Life Counts Dungarvan office by the Foley family and friends. A gallery on the wall of the office is filled with photos of the babies and families helped by the organisation over the years. Mairéad Foley said that those who took part were delighted to have honoured baby Luca by helping other families and other special babies.

Every Life Counts provides factual and accurate information for families after a challenging diagnosis for baby, operates a peer-to-peer network to link families, assists in important memory making, offers space for families to share their stories and honour their babies, produces awareness initiatives and seeks improved services, and more.

John and Liz Foley said that while their time with baby Luca knew fear, disappointment and grief, they "knew and trusted that this gift of new life would lead the way".

"In his short life, he never left the hospital but yet he was known and loved by so many family and friends around the world."

Delivering Luca's eulogy, John Foley said:

“We loved his beautiful lips that we eventually got to see the week before he passed after his tracheotomy took place. We loved his little hands, his boneless thumb, his clubbed feet with his two big toes that were actually smaller than all the rest of his toes – all of these perfect imperfections made him unique and even more special to us."

"We loved everything about Luca Joe, his strength, his resilience, his courage and his refusal to give in. Through all the surgeries he faced, he kept on fighting back and his medical team were amazed at how he battled back from having CPR performed on him two days before he eventually passed. Despite his diagnosis, and the pessimistic statistics associated with Trisomy 18 babies we always felt that he would fit into the 5-10 per cent category who live beyond one year. That was not to be but we take great comfort in the fact that we as parents did everything we could for him, his medical team exhausted both themselves and their machines for him, and he fought to the very end until he accepted his call from God."

"To Luca Joe – thank you for choosing us to be your parents. You brought us on a journey that we will never forget. You have changed our lives forever, and you have had a profound impact on your respective families both here and in Ireland, many of whom never got to meet you in person but hold you dear in their hearts. We have forged new friendships, we have gained more knowledge, we have learned to accept things that we cannot control, you have brought our family closer and made our hearts stronger. We are immensely proud of your courage and resilience, and there will not be a minute goes by that we do not think of you. We will all be together again one day."


"Codladh samh mo bhuachaill bán, is gra linn thú gach nóiméad de gach lá."

This article was originally published by Every Life Counts and is available there 

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