The kindness of strangers

Guest post from Hayley. Hayley’s daughter Beth is three and has cerebral palsy. After they were told Beth would have to wait up to two years for an appropriate wheelchair, the whole family pulled together to raise funds so that they could buy her the chair she so desperately needed. But then their story caught the eye of an American stranger, who stepped in to help out.

Beth and Hayley
Beth and Hayley

I have the pleasure of bringing up my four beautiful children, alongside my husband Mark.

When my youngest child Beth was born it wasn’t too much of a shock that she was premature, all my children were born early, my eldest at just 29 weeks. But we were so lucky, after short stays in hospital they all thrived.

Tip toes

But when Beth turned one I noticed that she was struggling to walk properly – she was walking on her tip toes. The doctors kept telling me it was something ‘she’d grow out of’.

Beth then started to have seizures, and just after her second birthday she was eventually diagnosed with both cerebral palsy and epilepsy. There were a lot of tears.

Due to her seizures and the effects they have on her she is at times unable to walk safely or at all, so we were referred to NHS Wheelchair Services. We were told it would be a long wait for a suitable chair – as long as two years!

Our family pulled together

My beautiful cousin Kiera then surprised me by saying that she had signed up to do the 50 mile Longmynd Hike to raise money to get Beth her wheelchair. We backed her in every way we could. We got in touch with our local paper and they came and took pictures of Beth and Kiera.

I put the resulting article in the paper on a blog which is called Kristen’s Life with Cerebral Palsy. I wanted to let people who might also be struggling to get the support they need know that fundraising is sometimes an option when the usual routes don’t work.

Letters from America

I then received an email from somebody that I will forever be indebted to. A woman called Judy had seen the newspaper article on the blog, explained that her daughter Lydia’s old but immaculate chair would be perfect for Beth, and that she would love to donate it to us.

I thought – ‘what an amazingly lovely thing to do’. But there was another hurdle to get over – a problem we thought it would be impossible to overcome – you see Judy lives in the USA!

After looking into couriers to bring the chair over, and finding that it would cost thousands of dollars, we felt the idea of ever getting the chair to Beth was lost.

Woman on a mission

Then earlier this year, on a very normal Friday, my husband received a call from Manchester airport saying there was a delivery currently going through customs for me. I was puzzled. We didn’t have a clue what it could be at first…then the penny dropped…

Unbeknown to us Judy had become a woman on a mission. She had got in touch with Delta airlines and told them the story. Days later they had taken the chair and within 24 hours the chair was in England, absolutely free of charge!

There are not enough ‘thank yous’ in the world to pay back the generosity of Judy for making the impossible possible.

Friendship and freedom

Whilst speaking with Judy through emails I had learnt that her daughter Lydia needed a special chair for school. We decided there and then to send some of the money we had raised for our campaign to kick-start their own fundraising appeal. We donated the rest to Shropshire Cerebral Palsy Society.

Beth, who is now three, can now go everywhere with us now without any worries at all, and she loves her new freedom.

Before all this started we felt afraid of the future and didn’t have a clue about fundraising. Now after a further two more fundraising events, in total we have actually managed to raise an amazing £4,090 for Shropshire Cerebral Palsy Society.

I am so very proud of my fantastic family and we really feel anything is possible now. I want to tell other people not to be forced to go without what your child needs. Fight for everything and you will be rewarded.

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