‘Oliver’s story has touched so many people’s hearts’
A FAMILY from Lyde Green have succeeded in their fundraising campaign to buy their son a piece of equipment that is changing his life.
Toni-Louise Worthington and Stephen Hardwell with their three-year-old son Oliver. The couple say they will never be able to thank the people who supported their fundraising campaign enough
Toni-Louise Worthington and Stephen Hardwell received £14,000 from strangers as well as family and friends towards the device to help their son, Oliver, aged three, to walk.
A family fun day at Brislington Junior Football Club in July brought in another £2,500, meaning that within six weeks they had enough to buy the Innowalk for Oliver, who has a degnerative brain condition.
Toni-Louise said they had been amazed at the response. “I can’t believe the amount of support that we’ve had,” she said.
“I thought it would take us a long time to raise the funds and wasn’t sure whether we would be able to do it, but we’ve been completely overwhelmed by people’s generosity.
“When The Innowalk arrived everyone cried, and the look on Oliver’s face told you how happy and lucky he felt. We always knew the potential of it, and initially he spent 15 minutes a day on it five days a week, and he’s now moved up to 25 minutes. He’s definitely getting stronger, and becoming more confident too, which is great to see.”
The family discovered the Innowalk when Oliver attended the Gympanzees pop-up, a playscheme for children with disabilities, in April.
The machine allowed Oliver to move his legs, and during one session he was able to walk 500m, something which was unheard of. The family were told that The Innowalk would mould his hips and prevent him from having hip surgery in the future, and would also help to build head control and muscle memory.
Once they found out it was not available on the NHS, the couple decided to try crowdfunding.
Toni-Louise said the Innowalk should last until Oliver, who has been diagnosed with Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia Type 6 (PCH6), a wasting away of various parts of the brain that results in a limited life expectancy, is eight. Then he will need the next size, which will cost £26,000.
She said: “We have been really lucky in that not only have we been able to buy Oliver the Innowalk, but people have still continued to donate and we now have some extra funds too. He is always going to need stuff, such as private physiotherapy sessions which cost £90 an hour as NHS appointments are really limited, and so this will be really helpful to us as a family.”
“We will never be able to properly thank all of the people that donated, as they have changed our little boy’s life. Despite everything he has gone through he is always smiling.”
Stephen added: “Friends and family really got behind us. Not a lot of people knew about our situation, even our close friends because as a family we tend to just get on with things and do what we need to do. We’ve had so many lovely messages on Facebook and the Just Giving page, we were all in tears reading them. Oliver’s story has really touched so many people’s hearts – he really is one of a kind.
“The support we’ve had makes you feel so humbled, and that there’s a bit of humanity still left in world. As a parent you do whatever you can for your child, and if there’s a chance it will help him, we will do it. Things can change so much, especially with the condition that Oliver has, and so we don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we will continue to do whatever we can for him.”
To find out more about Oliver and his story, visit the family’s Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/myneurohero.