11:30am Wednesday 15th January 2014
PARENTS striving to raise £100,000 for an operation to help their baby walk have collected more than £12,000 in just two months.
Ayla-Mae Hemms, aged 16 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.
Her parents, Leigh Hemms, 23, who works for Wales and West Utilities, and Kelsey Jenkins, 21, Ayla-Mae’s full-time carer, are planning to set up a charity in their daughter’s name to send her to America for a life changing operation which could help her walk.
Thanks to the generosity of businesses and residents in Gwent, Ayla-Mae is one step closer to achieving this goal, as more than £12,000 has been raised in less than two months.
Last month Planet Fitness in Aberbargoed held a 12-hour bike riding marathon in the gym from 7am to 7pm and raised more than £1,500.
Subway in Blackwood has also been raising money for Ayla-Mae, and donated £2 from every footlong sub and £5 from every platter sold on December 23 to the charity.
Ayla-Mae has also been named Caerphilly-based company TPS 360’s charity of the year for 2014, and they have already raised £1,000 and donated a signed Sam Warburton rugby shirt to the cause.
Mr Hemms said: “People have been absolutely fantastic. The people from my work have now donated £4,500 towards Ayla, and there’s a woman who has said she will do a sponsored skydive to raise money us.
“We took a bit of a break from the fundraising over Christmas and so donations have slowed down a bit, but now we are ready to start all over again, and we have some really big things planned. Myself and some friends are going to do the Welsh Three Peaks challenge in June too.”
The couple hope to not only help their daughter, but in the long-term use the charity to help other children in 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.”
To donate, visit gofundme.com/5fm48g or facebook.com/aylamae.hemms
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