Money pours in to help Blackwood tot

9:28am Monday 9th December 2013

AN Oakdale couple hoping to raise hundreds of thousands for their baby girl's treatment have raised thousands in a matter of days.

Just a week after the Argus exclusively revealed Leigh Hemms, 23, and Kelsey Jenkins, 21, hope to raise £100,000 to help their daughter Ayla-Mae walk and talk, they have raised almost £5,000 thanks to the generosity of people in Gwent.

This landmark sum means the couple have reached the first stage of their long-term goal and can now register as an official charity.

Little Ayla-Mae Hemms, aged 15 months, suffers spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and is also profoundly deaf. She needs to learn sign language, but she is unable to do so because of her condition.

Her parents want to set up a charity in their daughter’s name to send her to America to receive a life changing operation which could help her walk.

The ambitious couple hope to not only help their daughter, but in the long-term use the charity to help other children across the UK who suffer from varying forms of cerebral palsy.

The couple say they are amazed and touched from the outpouring of generosity they have received since the Argus revealed Ayla’s condition.

Mr Hemms said: “We have had a massive response. Since people have heard about it everyone wants to ge involved.

“Planet Fitness, a gym in Fleur de Lys has offered to do a 12-hour cycle marathon in Christmas onesies next week, a sandwich shop in Blackwood wants to donate and a phone shop in Pontypool have said they want to get involved, all so they can help Ayla.

“It’s amazing – these people haven’t even met her, and yet they are getting themselves and their friends involved,” he said. “There’s so many ideas and things going on, it’s completely blown us away.”

“So far we have raised more than £4,500 and hope to have reached £5,000 by next weekend, which will mean we can finally register as a proper charity.”

Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe type of cerebral palsy, and is caused by extensive damage to the brain. The couple say their first steps will be getting Ayla-Mae more physiotherapy, as currently she only gets one hour a month through the NHS. They hope physio and treatment will help loosen her hands, which she needs to learn sign language.

Mr Hemms added: “We would like to thank everyone who has donated or got in touch so far. Thank you to all those people who want to help Ayla because she’s a local girl, and her story has touched them.

“But we’ve still got quite a way to go.”

To donate, visit gofundme.com/5fm48g or facebook.com/aylamae.hemms

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