An Attleborough man has provided a little girl from Newmarket and her family one of the best Christmas presents they could have hoped for.
Michael Heyes read an appeal in our sister title, the Newmarket Journal, from Rochelle Reeves for help to buy her youngest daughter, two-year-old Olivia, a special walking frame costing almost £2,000.
I thought I would pledge half the cost but then I thought what good is that to Olivia, she needs this equipment now, so I decided to donate the whole amountMichael Heyes
Olivia has been in and out of hospital most of her short life because she suffers from dystonia — a condition that causes muscle spasms, microcephaly and diabetes.
“Mentally she is the equivalent of a new born baby and can’t use her legs or arms,” said Rochelle.
The family’s hope was to get the walking frame, which would strap round Olivia’s chest and hips sending signals to her brain. She has already tried the equipment and for the first time was able to walk.
And when Mr Heyes read the appeal he decided he wanted to do something to help.
“I was in hospital myself when I saw the Journal and read Olivia’s story on the front page,” he said.
“I thought I would pledge half the cost but then I thought what good is that to Olivia, she needs this equipment now, so I decided to donate the whole amount.”
Hannah Shervington, from Newlife, the largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness, which has managed Olivia’s appeal, said: “Michael’s generosity is amazing and such a wonderful gift for Olivia and her family We are now working to get the frame to her as soon as we can.”
And Olivia’s mum, Rochelle, said she was “completely overwhelmed” by the donation. “It’s amazing and so heart-warming. We are so grateful to Michael,” she said.
One of the family’s dreams, highlighted in the Journal appeal story, was for Olivia to be able to walk down the aisle at her sister Jessica’s wedding next year, which the frame will make possible.
It will also be vital when she starts as a pupil at the Riverwalk School in Bury St Edmunds next month. “It will change her life completely,” said Rochelle. “With the walking frame she will be able to do so much more than she can now. Seeing my little girl walk around our home on her own will be a dream come true.”