Thank you YEP readers! That’s the message from blind Leeds toddler Avah-Grace Bray and her mum, as the family celebrates hitting the £40,000 fundraising target which could help the youngster see for the first time.
Avah-Grace first appeared in the YEP last summer, when her mum Chelsea Beetham and gran Debra Beetham launched a campaign to raise money to help pay for “miracle” stem-cell treatment in China.
Now 10 months later – and a year ahead of target – they have raised more than £42,000.
It took a huge community effort, months of fundraising and a flood of donations from YEP readers.
Now Avah-Grace and Chelsea are getting ready to fly to Beijing’s Qingda hospital on June 19.
Chelsea, 24, said: “I just want to thank everybody who has donated through the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“We can’t thank them enough. It’s just going to mean so much to Avah and give her a better quality of life.
Two-year-old Avah-Grace was born with septo-optic dysplasia, a rare condition, affecting just 4 in 100,000 children, which left her completely blind.
The stem cell treatment in China has an 85 per cent success rate. Injections could give Avah-Grace light-perception for the first time, meaning she would be able to make out shadows and large shapes.
Further treatments could mean she sees her mum’s face for the first time.
Chelsea previously said: “She has such beautiful eyes, people often pass her things thinking she can see and I have to tell them she is in total darkness.
“I want her to be able to see other children, and my face and her own face.
“I want her to be able to read her birthday cards.
“She won’t ever have perfect vision. She might not ever know colours. But the little bit we can give her, we want to give her.”
Debra Beetham, Avah’s grandmother, who spearheaded the fundraising, said: “We are over the moon. And just so excited. I cannot wait for them to come back and to see if she does get sight.
“It can take a few months for it to work, but she might be able to see in time for Christmas.”