Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The chance of a lifetime

Sheffield charity, whose patrons include Def Leppard, Tony Christie and Sheffield United’s Chris Morgan, helps fund life-changing operation for three-year-old

Alex Burland- "more confident after the operation"
Local charity Help a Child Have a Chance have given £1000 to three-year-old Ollie Saxton at his nursery in Intake, Sheffield. The donation will contribute towards funding a vital operation in America, which will help Ollie to walk for the first time.

Ollie was born five weeks prematurely and at 19 months he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He cannot sit or balance by himself and he will never walk unaided. As Ollie grows, his muscles will shorten and his joints will become deformed or possibly dislocated.

Whilst there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there is an operation to treat its affect on his body. “Selective dorsal rhizotomy” involves surgery on the spine, which will free up the tightness in Ollie’s legs and help him to be more mobile. This specialist surgery is carried out at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, USA and costs up to £37,000.

Parents Rachel and Russell Saxton of Intake have been fundraising for six months so that Ollie can have the “best possible future”. Rachel, aged 33, said of the donation by Help a Child Have a Chance; “We feel really relieved, it’s been quite stressful organising all the fundraising events, but now we can relax.”

Whilst the Saxtons have enough to pay for the operation, they still need to raise another £10,000 to pay for Ollie’s aftercare.

Last Christmas, Help a Child Have a Chance gave a similar donation to six-year-old Alex Burland, from Hunter’s Bar, who needed to fly to America for the same operation as Ollie’s.

 “Alex is a lot more confident after the operation, he can now attend the sports club at his school, he has a lot more balance, he can even climb out of the car by himself and he is learning to walk with his walking sticks,” said mum Jayne Burland, aged 41.

Alex’s dad, Christian Burland, a self-employed builder, said of Help a Child Have a Chance, “It’s really fantastic of them, there are so many kids who need help, you don’t realise it until you find yourself in that position.”

Help a Child Have a Chance launched in 2010 in memory of the Sheffield radio broadcaster Dave Kilner. Throughout his radio career, Dave Kilner raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local disadvantaged children. In 2009, at the age of 48, Dave Kilner died in hospital after being ill for some time. To continue his legacy, his wife Shirley Kilner and two daughters Rebecca and Nicola organised the charity’s first fundraising event, ‘Dave Kilner A Night To Remember’ at Sheffield City Hall in April 2010. The charity supports local sick, needy and disadvantaged children “giving them that chance to make their lives a little bit better”.

In the last 18 months the charity has organised a number of fundraising events and has recently donated £500 to Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind Little Sparklers, a pre-school group for children with visual impairments and £2000 to Work Ltd for students with learning disabilities. They have also funded a children’s Halloween party for the Little Rainbows Autism Group in Doncaster.

This Christmas, the charity is partnering with The Sheffield Star newspaper and others to launch a 12 days of Christmas appeal, splitting £10,000 between 12 nominees across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.

You can find out more about the charity and their appeal at:

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