Dublin dad to lead 100 bikers as they hit the road for charity which helped daughter Bonnie

A Dublin dad whose daughter was born with hearing loss, is leading a 100-strong motorbike run in aid of the charity which supports his family.

Fire safety engineer Mark Caffrey, 37, says he and partner Emma Cahill, who live in Walkinstown, were initially reluctant to discuss what appeared to be hearing difficulties for their baby, in an effort to protect each other.

But now he says he cannot thank Chime – the national charity for Deaf and Hard of hearing People – enough for what they have done for his six-month-old daughter, Bonnie.

Harley-Davidson enthusiast Mark will lead up to 100 bikers on the run from the Dublin HQ of the iconic American manufacturer at Ballymount to Deaf Village Ireland in Cabra on Saturday, June 15, the day before Father’s Day.

Bonnie had not responded well to hearing tests after birth, but the couple was reassured that having been born by Caesarean section, fluid may not have fully drained from her ears.

“I started to notice little things. Her brother Jack, who is two years-old, makes a lot of noise, but Bonnie was not responding to it,” said Mark.

“I was inclined to keep my worries to myself to protect Emma, but later discovered she was doing the same.” 

Bonnie was eventually diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears, which would not resolve itself.

“It was double edged for us. We had gone in fearing Bonnie was completely deaf. But we did not know what would happen next.

“We were not aware of the implications. Would she speak? Would she need to attend a special school? How long would it take to get hearing aids?”

A fast referral to Chime quickly set the couple’s minds at rest.

“Chime contacted us within days of being referred and introduced us to the many resources they make available to Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. I cannot thank them enough.

“We had known nothing of Chime, but they became our guide, calling to our home, letting us know what we could do, and what we were entitled to.

“They even helped us fill in the forms for grants, including for an Irish Sign Language tutor, and have provided hearing aid care and maintenance.

“There is access to so many resources, including home safety devices and contact with families in similar situations.”

A Chime weekend seminar for parents of newly diagnosed children in Portlaoise saw Mark and Emma travel with very real worries.

“But over the weekend, Chime outlined every stage of the journey our family is on with Bonnie. We knew then it was going to be tough for us, but ultimately ok.

“There were stories which resonated with me, like fathers clicking their fingers to see if their baby responded. 

“We left the weekend feeling great. We could see the road ahead. 

“And we felt a strong need to give something back to Chime. The resources they provide are amazing.

“Bonnie wears hearing aids to assist her. Chime have been such a valuable part of our journey and we want every child with hearing loss to be looked after as well as she has been.”

Mark, a biker from the age of 15, comes from a family of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, with his father, uncles, brothers and cousins all riding Harleys. But the event is open to all makes and models of motorcycle.

Donations to Chime’s Motorbike Fun Run can be made here: https://gofund.me/e1bbd15a

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