AILEEN Henderson is a young woman with a goal — and things have never looked better for the Irish teenager despite the challenges life has thrown her way.
Born in Scotland to a Scottish father and an Irish mother, Aileen and her family moved to Galway at the age of three when she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Now 19, the music fan is a singer-songwriter about to embark on a tour of Ireland.
The tour is being fully funded to the tune of $50,000 by an American doctor who fell in love with her voice.
Aileen is also set to release her first single with the help of the kind-hearted medic who moonlights as a singer himself.
The unlikely friendship between the Irish teenager and American doctor Rex Haberman came from a mutual appreciation of music.
“Rex’s band The War Poets followed me on Twitter and whenever I get a new follower I send them my YouTube link,” Aileen explained.
The pair have since collaborated and co-written a song about Dementia and Alzheimer’s called Where Memories Live.
The single was launched on August 14, just in time for the week-long tour which kicked off in Galway on August 16.
The pair will meet face-to-face for the first time this week.
“I have been singing for as long as I can remember although I began to take it more seriously around the age of 12,” Aileen said.
“I would always be very shy, even around family. I set up my YouTube channel in 2010 and the positive feedback gave me a great confidence boost.”
Aileen is blasé about her condition but she decided to speak out about cystic fibrosis to inspire other young people with the disorder.
“The only reason I would ever publicise the fact that I have CF like this would be so that others realise they can do whatever they wish,” she said. “If this helps one other person with CF or any other illness then I’m more than happy.”
“Singing has definitely helped me and I often say it’s the best antibiotic I have ever had!” she added.
A film crew from Britain are flying to Ireland to follow Aileen and Rex, who will perform under the name Light Over There with the aim of making a documentary of the experience.
Last week Aileen collected her Leaving Cert results, released her first single and embarked on her nationwide tour — but she remains as level-headed as ever and hopes to study music and composition in college.
“After the tour we’re not entirely sure what we’ll do as of yet,” she said. “I’ll be starting college and Rex is involved in many other projects as well as having a busy professional life so we’ll see how things go after the tour.”
“We’ll definitely stay in touch and hopefully work together again at some stage!”