Jonathan Irwin is a former stud owner and racetrack executive who, in his mature years, devoted his life to a foundation he set up with his wife Mary Ann called the Jack and Jill Foundation. He set up the foundation in 1997 to provide in-home nursing care for severely disabled children, or babies born with life-threatening, debilitating conditions, whose parents would otherwise be unable to afford such services. The Irwins set up the foundation in response to a tragedy which befell their own family in 1996, which would change the course of their lives.
Jonathan Irwin’s son Jack was born healthy, but for an unknown reason, he developed severe brain damage due to complications which occurred two days after his birth. According to Jack and Jill’s website, “While history does not reveal the immediate aftermath of this drama, it is probable that he died and was resuscitated. Certainly from that moment on, Jack could not swallow and was probably blind and deaf.” The doctor treating Jack advised the Irwins to leave him at the hospital so that he would not be a burden on his family and moreover, this would be the only way the state would be forced to provide care for him.
The Irwins, outraged and finding this attitude totally unacceptable, decided to care for Jack at home with the help of a local volunteer nurse. They received no assistance from the health services executive (HSE) which they found appalling. The Irwins vowed to help as many families as they could, who unavoidably found themselves in the same tragic situation. Jack lived for 22 months under the loving care of his family and a team of volunteer nurses by his side.
In the last 20 years, the Irwins, with the Jack and Jill Foundation, have helped thousands of families fund care for their severely disabled children in their homes. It is truly a monumental service to the country of Ireland and a gift to the children and their families they have helped.
So it was with a heavy heart that Jonathan Irwin stepped down as CEO last week in a shocking announcement via Twitter. His reason? To care for his daughter who is bedridden, following what he says was a severe reaction to the Gardasil vaccine. The usual vitriolic attacks from the motley crew of pro-HPV-vaccine-at-all-costs media reps, professors, doctors, and “concerned individuals,” which normally descends on such posts, was noticeably absent. It seemed like there was a kind of stunned silence that such a prominent figure as Mr. Irwin would make such a claim.