Rory McIlroy is having a year to remember on the golf course – and he's made it unforgettable for a number of young cancer patients in his native Northern Ireland as well. The world No. 1, through his Rory Foundation, donated £1 million (about $1.6 million) to the Daisy Lodge in Newcastle – and on Tuesday he dropped by for its official grand opening.
A collaboration between McIlroy and the Cancer Fund for Children, the Daisy Lodge is what McIlroy calls a "short-break center" – a place where children with cancer and their families can go and, as he said, "be treated like royalty."
"Short breaks provide exhausted families with the chance to spend quality time together after many months spent in isolation or on the hospital ward," according to the Daisy Lodge website. "They will be able to recharge their batteries, increase their sense of well-being and gain support from the charity's Therapeutic Specialist. They will also get the chance to meet and gain support from other families in a similar situation."
Since its soft opening last spring, the Lodge has hosted approximately 150 families from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with the expectation that as many as 500 families could visit over the course of a year. Lodge officials hope that every child in Northern Ireland afflicted with cancer will be able to take advantage of the facilities.
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McIlroy has visited the Daisy Lodge several times already, and first met with some of the kids last Christmas Eve.
"I was just blown away, I really was," he said on Tuesday. "It really makes you appreciate what you have and I wanted to help in any way that I could."
McIlroy has been involved with the Cancer Fund for Children almost since the day he opened his foundation. At the beginning of 2013, he put the CFC logo on his golf bag and later auctioned off the bag to raise funds for the Daisy Lodge and help spread the word of the group's work with families coping with the impact of cancer. Last fall, he auctioned off a pair of pink golf shoes.
And now that the Daisy Lodge is officially up and running, McIlroy is looking to do more. Specifically, he wants to see whether more Daisy Lodges can be opened elsewhere.
Here's a quick video report on McIlroy's visit: