By David Hennessy
Irish country artists have given their time and voices for a new charity version of White Christmas.
Owen Mac, Jacqui Sharkey, John Molly, Ger Long, Aishling Rafferty, Dan Washburn, Seamus Fitzsimmons and Larissa Tormey are among the names who have joined forces with Canadian chart acts to help a young boy in Carlow reach Canada for the specialist treatment he needs.
Cosmin, or Coco, Manole was born in 2014 with cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen during his early birth.
Coco is not yet walking and he has problems with balance, low muscle tone, spasticity, sensory issues, and speech delays although he has been working with the National Association of Child Development, using a specifically targeted intervention program created for his needs.
Cosmin has made huge progress in the last 4 years working every day since he was 18 months old, to gain functions that come easily to other children.
However, it is hoped that laser therapy in Meditech Clinic Toronto, Canada will help him to, as his father says, accelerate this process.
Cosmin’s father Razvan Manole told The Irish World: “They had a brilliant idea with this song. Hopefully all the hard work will pay off. I’m confident. I have no clue what to expect exactly but I’m optimistic.”
The treatment will require two to three weeks in Canada with the treatment continuing at home. The expenses involved means the family has to raise €15- 20,000.
Although the family have been told the condition will affect Cosmin for his entire life, they refused to accept this.
“Specialist experts said, ‘You have to live with it, cerebral palsy will be there for the rest of his life’. I don’t accept this. I’ve seen results: People disabled for years and years get their lives back. He’s my son and I’m dedicating my life- I gave up on my career, I’m with him 24/7 and I will get where I have to get. I don’t want to live with it. I want to fight with it and win.
“My son is my responsibility. I’m with him 24/7 and I will be with him when he will be 100% independent. I will not rest until then.”
When most children are out playing, Coco is working so hard 8 hours a day, wishing and hoping to have a regular childhood and a normal life but his father knows the laser treatment is only the start of the journey.
“Lasers won’t teach my son how to eat with a fork, to do math but it will provide a strong foundation.
“Lasers will provide healing and will help connect the brain with the nervous system. It will create a stronger foundation for milestones that are coming easily in neurotypical children.
“There is evidence that lots of people with all kinds of brain issues that healed, got their lives back. The evidence, testimonials and videos, convinced me.
“We are working with an organisation from the United States NACD and we have made a lot of progress.
“He struggles with mobility. He’s 100% dependant on me for physical activitities. The cerebral palsy he has is the worst type.
“It affects all four limbs. He’s not able to walk, use the toilet. He needs help every day.
“The brain and the nervous system are not well connected. The brain doesn’t know it has a body and how to use it.”
While learning to walk is something that comes to other children naturally, Cosmin has needed help at every stage of the way and is still not there.
“We have made a lot of progress. We are doing knee walking, it’s before walking. It’s two years since we started. There are so many small pieces to put together no parent would observe them because it happens so fast in neurotypical children. You just have to witness and I had to work for all those pieces.
“The progress is so slow and work is so difficult.
“If lasers can connect the brain with the nervous system then we will be able to accelerate the process.”
Asked how Cosmin copes or comes to terms with his body’s issues and not being able to do what other children can, Razvan says: “He’s a hard worker. We are hard workers as parents. We teach him to fight, overcome himself. He understands he has to overcome his body’s weakness.
“As neurotypical people we are not conscious of movement. It is subconscious but he has to be conscious. Every movement takes energy, power.
“It’s tough to do two things at once. If he thinks of something else, he is not focusing on the mobility exercises so I taught him to focus, be present. I taught him how to move on past his frustrations. He knows he has to fight. We know we have to fight.”
Cosmin’s parents came to Ireland from Romania in 2018. When Lauren Kirwan from Carlow FM heard of the family’s plight the radio station decided to see what they could do to help which led to the new single with many famous voices attached.
White Christmas by Country Stars for Coco is out now and available here with all proceeds going to the Please support Coco appeal.