Little people with a big heart have doubled the cash fund launched to help treat one of their classmates fighting a rare form of aggressive cancer.
Four-year-old Farid Elshahawy, from Thornhill, is being treated for neuroblastoma, with a tumour already removed from above one of his kidneys.
He has now completed his course of chemotherapy and is halfway through his programme of 14 sessions of radiotherapy.
Once that is complete, he will begin immunotherapy, which will help boost his body’s natural defences to fight the cancer.
His parents, Ahmed and Sherine, have launched a campaign to raise more than £350,000 to cover the cost of a vaccine in America, with more money needed if he relapses.
Around £4,000 has been raised through donations, but that has been topped with a further £4,250 collected by his Sunderland nursery.
To think about what his family are going through, we want to do anything we could to help them.Debra Clark
Ahmed, who is also dad to Nelly, one, said: “This is very good news.
“We are looking at raising between £300,000 to £350,000 just for the vaccine and then there are flights, accommodation, scans and nurses to pay for.
“He is doing ok and he’s much better than when he was having the chemotherapy.
“He’s still not eating and has to be fed through a tube in his nose and he is still very skinny and still walks with a limp.”
The family is being given the support of the Solving Kids’ Cancer charity with a Just Giving page set up to take donations while Farid is treated through Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital.
The appeal has been given a boost by Apple Blossom Nursery, where he was a pupil before his diagnosis, and has held a series of event in his name.
More than 50 children, staff and the children’s family members recently took part in a fancy dress walk around Barnes Park.
It followed on from a midnight walk by 15 workers, where the team followed a route from South Shields to Seaburn.
Kate Dickinson, the Durham Road nursery’s manager, said: “We were very emotional when we found out he wasn’t well, because up until then, he’d been very lively.
“He’s a lovely, happy boy and has a gorgeous smile, so when we found out he’d been rushed into hospital in Newcastle, we were quite shocked.
“It’s a really difficult time and we have told the children, the three to five-year-olds because they remember Farid, and explained her is poorly and we are trying to raise money to help him get better.
“The parents have really got behind us, they’ve been really supportive.
“I’ve got a little boy myself and I can just imagine how they must feel.”
Among the parents taking part in the walk was Debra Clark, 47, who is mum to Luke Hills, six, and nursery pupil Daniel Hills, four.
She said: “To think about what his family are going through, we want to do anything we could to help them.
“The nursery has been really supportive as Daniel has autism, so this was also a way for us to give them something back.”
Updates on Farid’s progress can be followed through the Give Farid Hope Facebook page and donations to Farid’s fund can be given via https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/solvingkidscancer/faridelshahawy.