A LITTLE boy is closer to his dream of being able to walk, thanks to the support and generosity of Observer readers.
Six weeks ago, we featured Thomas Jenkinson and his family’s campaign to raise £40,000 for a life-changing operation.
His family has now raised around £10,000 towards their £40,000 total and has pledges of support from other local fundraisers.
This week, Thomas wrote a Christmas card to all our readers thanking them for their support.
In it, he said: “To kind readers, Merry Christmas, Thank you very much, Love Tom xxx.”
His mum, Sarah, added: “I just want to say a big thank you to everyone for being so kind and generous.
“It is the kindness of strangers, it really is.”
Thomas, who turned five just after the first article was published, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery could help him to walk and move himself independently.
The operation would also help with the almost constant pain which has become a part of Thomas’ everyday life.
However, the procedure is not available on the NHS and his family is trying to raise £40,000 to pay for the operation in America.
Messages of goodwill
Since the article, cheques have been appearing at the Observer office, many with messages of goodwill.
One card simply read: “Get well soon.”
Another said: “We were very moved to read of your son’s plight... Good wishes and ‘bon courage’ to you both.”
Talking about the response, Sarah said: “At this time of year it makes you think there is real Christmas spirit, but then you realise it is not even that because it is all the time. Everyone has been so kind and generous and everyone has taken Thomas into their hearts.”
Donations have also been trickling into the family’s fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/teams/helptomtoddle
“There have been lots of little £10 and £5 donations going into JustGiving, which all adds up,” said Sarah.
Events planned for next year so far include a mediumship night, a toddle event with the Tall Dog and fundraising with Give 4 BETH.
“Everyone has been really great,” said Sarah.
“People are starting to know who we are. The reaction has been really positive.”
The family was also hoping to organise a concert but, with the planned closure of The Venue, in Chichester, is looking for another location.
If you would like to donate to the fund, you can visit the JustGiving page or post a cheque made payable to Thomas Jenkinson to Sheena Campbell, Observer, Unicorn House, Eastgate Square, Chichester, PO19 1JN. You don’t have to give money to Help Tom Toddle.
The family is also collecting old televisions, DVDs and mobile phones. Anyone who would like to donate an item can drop it into the Observer’s offices in Eastgate Square, marked for the attention of Sheena.