SISTERS Stephanie and Leah Robson have a special message for their supermum – “thank you”.
Both girls suffer from life-limiting muscular dystrophy and depend on mum Toni 24 hours a day.
“Leah and I can’t do anything for ourselves,” said Stephanie, 11.
“We need bathing and I also need a life-support machine every night to help me breathe.
“Our mam is a superhero, our star, our everything. Thank you so much.”
Toni, of Langdale, Albany, Washington, is today unveiled as the winner of the Echo’s I Love Mum competition, in time for Mother’s Day tomorrow.
Stephanie was just 31 days old when Toni was dealt the devastating blow that her first-born had muscular dystrophy, a muscle-wasting disease that has since left her in a wheelchair.
Two-and-a-half years later, at 23 weeks’ pregnant, Toni was told her second child, Leah, also had the disease.
“Leah was diagnosed while she was still in my stomach,” she said. “They asked me what I wanted to do.
But I’d already grown a bond with her and she was my baby, there was no way I could get rid of her.
“When they told me Stephanie had muscular dystrophy, I wasn’t bothered.
“She was my baby and nothing could change that, so I knew it would be fine again.”
During the past decade, Stephanie has undergone a series of painful operations to try and improve her quality of life, including major spinal surgery and an operation to straighten her feet.
She has also battled for life several times in the Intensive Care Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
The youngster spent nine weeks in a serious condition after contracting bronchitis and pneumonia, which led to her lungs collapsing when she was just two-and-a-half.
And, when she had just given birth to Leah, now nine, Toni had to rush straight to Stephanie’s bedside, where she stayed until she got better.
The 29-year-old said: “The first time I saw Leah properly was when she was nine weeks old, because I was spending so much time with Stephanie.
“It was so strange as it felt as though I hadn’t had another baby.
“But as soon as we got out of hospital we build up the bond straight away.
“There have been so many times when it’s been touch and go.”
Toni, also mum to Jamey, five, devotes her whole life to caring for her children.
Stephanie said: “My mam never complains, she’s amazing.”
After hearing she had won the competition, Toni, who is married to Ronnie, 31, added: “I can’t believe it, I’m flabbergasted.
“That’s my little angels for you, they’re full of surprises.”