A GIANT toddle is being planned to help a little boy’s dream come true.
Vicki Harrison has written to all primary schools in West Sussex, asking them to take part in a sponsored toddle in a bid to raise funds for Thomas Jenkinson.
As regular Observer readers will know, Thomas’ family is trying to raise £40,000 to pay for a life-changing operation which they hope will allow him to walk.
After seeing his story at the end of last year, Vicki and her team from The Tall Dog, in Midhurst, decided to get involved in the Help Tom Toddle campaign.
As a mother of two sons – Harry and Jack – something about Tom’s story resonated with her.
“Tom’s face reminded me of Jack, something just drew me to it,” she said.
“It was such a lovely photograph.
“We support charities every month anyway, part of the set-up of The Tall Dog was to help local charities and help local people.”
Last year, The Tall Dog helped raise money for the Chloe’s New Legs campaign. The campaign saw thousands raised to pay for an operation which meant Chloe Humphrey could walk for the first time.
“It was great raising money for Chloe,” said Vicki “but we got involved right towards the end, whereas with Tom we have been involved almost since the beginning. It is a chance to see if we can really make a difference and help him on his way.”
Vicki originally got the idea of a sponsored toddle after talking to staff at her son’s pre-school, but since then the toddle has grown.
“An email went out to about 240 schools,” said Vicki. “I would like to get all the schools in West Sussex, either on one day or over the course of a week, to run a sponsored toddle.
“Even if it is just a few laps around the school field, it will be such a big thing getting all the schools involved.”
Vicki felt an event at primary schools would be appropriate because the children would be able to relate to five-year-old Tom. “I thought it would be something children can get involved in, seeing how it will help a little boy, and it will be great.”
Thomas has quadriplegic cerebral palsy meaning he is in almost constant pain and cannot move independently.
Selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery could help him to walk and move independently.
However, the operation is not available on the NHS and his family is trying to raise £40,000 to pay for the operation in America.
The operation is also more likely to be effective when Tom is still young, so they have set themselves the target of reaching their fundraising target by this summer, making every donation and fundraising event count.
The team at Tall Dog organised a raffle for Tom at the end of last year and has more fundraising events planned, including donating the fees from a business breakfast later this month, a silent auction in February, with a host of businesses already pledging their support, and the sponsored toddle in March.
All schools which take part in the toddle will be included in a roll of honour in the paper. Nursery and pre-schools are also more than welcome to take part.
Vicki is also hoping to organise a car wash, all the equipment has already been pledged but she is looking for a location and teams to take part.
“We are trying very much to use our networking business and our connections to get other people involved,” said Vicki. “Whether it is people giving up their time or people making a donation.”
Vicki is also encouraging anyone with their own fundraising ideas to get in touch.
“If anyone has any suggestions of anything they would like to get organised we would be more than happy to organise it with them,” she said.