A TODDLER’S fight for life has touched the hearts of Wearsiders.
In the past three weeks, more than £6,000 has flooded in for little Jack Baird, two, from Ryhope, who lives with a rare condition which means he is not expected to live past his teenage years.
Though devastated, his family have been offered some hope with a new drug trial that could help Jack and fellow sufferers of the deadly Sanfilippino Syndrome.
Along with 19 other children, Jack has been selected to take part in the trial at Manchester Children’s Hospital, but they need to raise £580,000 to fund the treatment.
Mum Gemma Nelson, 29, says she has been overwhelmed by the support of the community after she and the rest of Jack’s family launched a drive to help him.
“We are really touched by everything people are doing to help Jack,” she said.
“I never wanted any publicity for Jack as I didn’t want him to be looked at differently to other kids, but we have had such an amazing response.
“A couple called Mr and Mrs Smith read about him in the paper and sent us a letter with a cheque, we couldn’t believe it.”
Asda in Grangetown have also thrown their support behind the family, hosting a tombola and allowing Jack’s family and friends to use collection buckets in store.
Further funds have also been raised through Jack’s JustGiving page, a collection with workers at Amec, who are Gemma’s partner Garry Watson’s employers, a car boot sale and further donations.
Gemma, who is also mum to Lewis, eight, said: “People have been so lovely. Women from Tunstall Bank estate where we live have also collected £300.
“Jack doesn’t know what to think as he hates people looking at him, but his story has really helped to raise awareness of the condition.”
Football clubs around the country have donated merchandise to be raffled off for Jack and future events include a tea dance from noon tomorrow at Ryhope Community Centre and a charity night at The Golden Fleece in Silksworth, on October 13.
Jack, a Sunningdale Nursery pupil, is gradually deteriorating but it is hoped the new drug may halt the condition’s progress.
He was diagnosed at 16 months old with the syndrome which gradually destroys brain function and physical ability. It affects one in 85,000 children.
Gemma added: “We know it’s an absolutely mad sum of money, but this treatment is known to work and is literally ready now.
“It just needs to be clinically approved so it can be mass produced and made available to save hundreds of children’s lives.
“Once the trial is carried out, the treatment can be made available, at very little cost, for Jack and other children with this disease all over the world.”
l To donate to Jack’s cause visit www.shareagift.com/jack.