Generous Spalding Guardian readers are digging deep to help a 12-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer speak for the very first time in her life.
Last week our Lincs Free Press Children’s Fund donated £500 towards the cost of a £5,600 eye gaze machine for Dakota Read.
The miracle machine means Dakota’s gaze will be translated into words spoken by a synthetic voice that can be made unique to her.
So far, readers have donated a grand total of £285 – and we’re massively grateful to them.
This week we are renewing our plea for people to fundraise for Dakota or make donations to the Lincs Free Press Children’s Fund so we can give Dakota a truly priceless gift, the ability to share her thoughts with her family.
Dakota’s mum, Paula Wheeldon, told us: “People’s generosity just blows us away as a family. We’re just so grateful to everyone for their help.
“I just look forward to the day when I hear Dakota’s first words.”
In 2013, the BBC’s DIY SOS transformed the family’s Weston Hills home so the whole family, including Dakota’s sister, Lachan, and brother Jake, could all live comfortably together under one roof.
The story touched the hearts of people around the world and there was a big flurry of mentions on social media when the show aired recently on the channel Really.
Paula (46) said the family hadn’t themselves asked for the DIY SOS team to come – someone nominated them – and they will be forever grateful.
She said: “When you have a disabled child, you don’t get money just thrown at you from the Government – you don’t have all of your child’s needs met.
“It’s only at a very basic level the equipment that you get. Anything else you have got to be able to fund.”
Paula says the family has been very fortunate that people are so generous to Dakota as there’s no way they themselves can find £5,600 for the eye gaze machine.
The family had received pledges totalling £1,800 when the Guardian stepped in to launch a public appeal.
• With our £500 and £285 from readers, we need to raise £3,015. Please make donations payable to the Lincs Free Press Children’s Fund and send them to us at Priory House, The Crescent, Spalding PE11 1AB. To discuss our appeal, call Lynne Harrison on 01775 765413.