TWO families have joined forces to raise money to give their young children a better quality of life.
Both children attend Ropley Primary School and their families have got together to hold a grand Love for Life Ball and Auction at the Holiday Inn in Winchester on February 6 to boost their particular fundraising campaigns.
Tom Burnett, eight, from Medstead, and Isabelle Mycroft, six, from Ropley, and both struggling to live normal lives with life-changing conditions, and they are in need of some help.
For Ropley couple Hazel and Shawn Mycroft, it has given them with a massive challenge. They are looking to raise £50,000 for Isabelle, who has spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy which affects balance and the legs.
Along with twin Joshua, Isabelle was born at 27 weeks and spent three months in a neo-natal intensive care unit. The family was told that Joshua had sustained extensive brain damage at birth and may never walk or talk. Thankfully, Joshua has thrived and is doing really well. Isabelle seemed to be developing normally until around 15 months when it was realised she was unable to sit, crawl or pull herself up to a standing position. It was then that she was diagnosed with spastic diplegia.
Described as “an amazing little girl”, Isabelle can walk but falls constantly and can only stand still if holding onto something or someone. As a result, she is unable to dress herself and do any of the things little girls love to do.
Pioneering American surgeon Dr Park, who developed selective dorsal rhizotomy, has accepted Isabelle for this major spinal surgery. With his proven track record, Dr Park hopes the surgery will enable Isabelle to achieve her dream of running with her brothers and no longer require constant support.
For Medstead parents Rebecca and Gary Burnett, their world fell apart when, at the age of four, Tom was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystropy, a fatal muscle-wasting disorder which is slowly robbing him of physical ability, meaning he will be almost totally paralysed over the next 10 years and may not live beyond his 20s.
While Tom is still able to walk small distances, he can no longer run and finds difficulty in climbing the smallest of stairs and the family are looking to raise £12,500 to buy an off-road terrain hopper mini-wheelchair that, while not essential, will enable him to continue playing in the garden, accompanying his assistance dog on walks, to go fishing and to the beach and, with his sister, Amy, join his local Cub pack.
Rebecca said: “When Tom was diagnosed he was pretty much able to do what every four-year-old boy would, albeit a bit slower, but now he is really starting to struggle. He has a manual wheelchair but, unfortunately, these cannot go on uneven terrain so, unless Tom’s dad carries him, he can no longer visit beaches, woods or fields.
“I recently realised that I never see children in wheelchairs at the beach and that’s because there aren’t many products available that enable them to keep going outdoors, which is what we enjoy most as a family.
“Given that Tom’s life will be a short one, we want him to be able to climb a mountain if he chooses. He shouldn’t have to be forced to stay inside.”
Organising a grand ball struck Hazel and Rebecca as a great way of bringing the community together to have an enjoyable evening while helping their children at the same time.
The Holiday Inn at Winchester is providing the banquet room for free, now the families need to get tickets to the Love for Life Ball and Auction sold.
The evening will include a welcoming Champagne reception, a three-course meal, wine, and dancing, with three opportunities to win some great prizes, donated by companies and celebrities, during a raffle, a silent auction and a live auction.
Prizes include tickets to see Peter Andre in concert at London’s O2 Arena in March with an overnight stay at the Haymarket Hotel, tickets to a 2016 X-factor live show, exclusive merchandise from Elton John, tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show, a flying lesson in a C42, a haircut by Guy Kremer Studios, a BBC South tour and observance of a live on-air show, and tickets directly from comedian Russell Howard to one of his shows. Russell is a former pupil of Ropley School and Alton College.
Tickets to the ball can be bought via loveforlife.studiosr1.com.
Anyone who can’t attend but would like to donate should visit Tom’s Wheels at gofundme.com/un5bsp29 and/or Isabelle’s Dreams at gofundme.com/p35j9ems.