A BRAVE youngster’s dream trip to America to meet others battling the same rare medical condition will become a reality thanks to the generosity of people in South Tyneside.
Jake Roberts, aged eight, set his heart on going to New Orleans to meet other youngsters living with one of the world’s rarest conditions, Nager Syndrome.
He will now be able to attend the conference – where he will be able to meet those who he says are “on my team” – after his mum Stephanie set out to raise £2,000 to cover travel expenses by June.
Thanks to the generosity of the people of South Tyneside, the pair had hit the target within hours of Jake’s story being in the Gazette.
They have also been helped by Cheryl McDonald and Lynn Davis from Community Corner based in Edinburgh Road, Jarrow.
The mum-and-daughter team, who raise cash for good causes in South Tyneside by selling people’s donated goods, have handed over £1,238 to help Jake on his way.
Stephanie, of York Avenue, Jarrow, said: “It’s just overwhelming. When Cheryl and Lynn handed over the cheque, I thought ‘we are halfway there’, but I still knew we had quite a bit to go.
“It was my sister who phoned and told me the night it was in the paper and she said ‘have you seen Jake’s donation page?’
“I went online and had a look and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“Over the years we have had to deal with some nasty comments from people towards Jake, so to see how kind and generous people are really made me emotional.
“When I told Jake that we had enough money to go to America, he just squealed and shouted ‘I’m going to meet my team, my team’.
“I really can’t thank the people of South Tyneside enough for helping me to make this happen for Jake.
“I would also like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Cheryl and Lynn from Community Corner, who have helped us so much.”
They also received a donation of £1,000 from Solar Solve Marine, based in the Port of Tyne.
Jake is one of only five children in the UK with Nager Syndrome.
He was born with holes in his heart, deafness, breathing problems, an underdeveloped limb, and a cleft palate, and at one stage was not expected to live for very long.
He has already had 19 operations in his short life – including a tracheostomy, open-heart surgery, cleft palate repair, hernia repairs, a jaw distraction, hand surgery to create a thumb and a feeding tube direct in his stomach – with more planned in the future.
Cheryl said: “I’ve known Stephanie for years and seen how hard it is for her. It was just amazing we were able to contribute to something she had set her heart on doing for Jake.
“It just felt right to donate the takings from our first week in our new shop to Jake.”
Lynn added: “We would like to say ‘thank you’ to our team at Community Corner for all their hard work, those who have brought in donations and those who have come in and bought items.
“Tthey have all helped us to raise such a fantastic amount for Jake.”