Big-hearted youngsters at a Sunderland school have raised almost £7,000 for their friend, who is fighting a cancerous brain tumour.
The lives of eight-year-old Ruby Dunn and her family were turned upside down just six weeks ago when she was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Astrocytoma – an extremely rare cancer in children and more commonly found in middle-aged adults.
She had been suffering headaches, high temperatures and vomiting and doctors gave the devastating news after an MRI scan.
Ruby has had an operation to remove 90% of the tumour and now faces eight months of intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy to eradicate the rest.
Her fellow pupils and staff at South Hylton Primary Academy were determined to do whatever they could to help Ruby and her family and managed to raise the huge amount.
And, every child at the academy gathered to watch Ruby, her mum Danielle, dad Joseph and little brother Joseph, let go a balloon launch on the school playing field, taking the message of her fight for health far and wide.
The day that we found out our whole world just turned upside downDanielle Wanless
There were 945 red balloons, a colour chosen to reflect the first name of the youngster and her initials RED, Ruby Elise Dunn, and each one represented fundraising efforts by the pupils and their families.
The cash raised for Ruby by her school friends will help her parents – who have put their lives and jobs on hold while they devote their time to caring for their daughter, visiting hospital five times every week.
Mum Danielle Wanless, 30, who works for Gala Bingo, in Pallion, said: “The day that we found out our whole world just turned upside down.”
Dad Joseph Dunn, 36, a construction worker, said: “It doesn’t seem real and there’s a part of you which doesn’t take it all in. You cry when you’ve got to cry, but we keep strong in front of Ruby. We are now just concentrating on trying to get Ruby well.”
Ruby is still attending school when she feels well enough and has astounded her family and friends with her energy and upbeat attitude. The family from Pennywell, Sunderland, hope to use some of the funds raised for a family holiday in Majorca if Ruby is well enough.
Danielle said: “We just couldn’t believe what the school has done for Ruby, it’s unreal. It’s heartbreaking what’s happened, but heart warming in the way everyone has helped out. It’s very emotional.”
Joseph added: “We never pictured ourselves being in this position, but how fast people come together and help you is absolutely unreal.”
Ruby’s teacher, Lisa Collins, said: “When we found out it was such a shock. We knew we had to help.
“The response we’ve had and generosity of our parents and wider community has been quite overwhelming.”