7:02am Monday 16th December 2013
A GYM held a marathon 12-hour bike ride to raise money to help a Gwent baby undergo a life changing operation.
Little Ayla-Mae Hemms, aged 15 months, from Oakdale, 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.
On Saturday Planet Fitness in Aberbargoed held a 12-hour bike riding marathon in the gym to raise funds for Ayla-Mae, from 7am to 7pm.
The team who took part completed the challenge while wearing Christmas onesies and raised more than £1,500.
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 raised almost £5,000.
Now, thanks to the gym marathon and other generous fundraisers, they are on £8,000, which means they have reached the first stage of their long-term goal and can register as an official charity.
M Hemms said: “We went down to see them cycling, and it was fantastic. They all made a big fuss of Ayla, and I felt tired just looking at them! They’ve raised about £1,500 but there’s still more money trickling in.
“People have been absolutely fantastic. People from work have now donated £4,500 towards Ayla, through various events. We had a couple we don't even know donate £300 on our fundraising page – it turns out they are from Cambridge, and heard about Ayla, so instead of giving each other Christmas presents this year they’ve donated the money they would have spent to Ayla’s charity."
Ayla Mae’s parents want to set up the 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.
Mr Hemms added: “We’ve been donated some amazing things so far, so I’m now on the lookout for a large venue so we can hold a black tie event in February and auction them all off.”
Subway in Blackwood is raising funds for Ayla-Mae too, and is donating £2 from every footlong sub and £5 from every platter sold on December 23 to Ayla Mae’s charity.
To donate, visit gofundme.com/5fm48g or facebook.com/aylamae.hemms
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