Plymouth digs deep to keep little Zack on the move
A HOST of generous city people have pledged their support to help a young boy with an incurable disease stay out of a wheelchair for as long as possible.
On Saturday The Herald told the story of seven-year-old Zack Hayden, who has the devastating disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Zack is likely to be wheelchair-bound within the next two years and most people with DMD do not live to see their 30th birthday.
His mum Maria Whatley made a heartfelt plea to the people of Plymouth to help her raise £4,500 to buy a special machine, called the Vecttor, which could help keep Zack out of a wheelchair for longer and increase his life expectancy.
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Now a number of city people, charities and businesses have come forward offering to help.
A woman in her 80s, from Mutley, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was so touched by his story she decided to donate £25.
She said: "The picture of little Zack really touched my heart and him and his family deserve all the help and support they can get. I'm just sorry my donation isn't any bigger."
Local charity Bethany's Forget-Me-Not Wishes have also come forward offering to help.
The group, which was set up by Angie Green in memory of her three-year-old granddaughter Bethany Bassom, who died in 2008 after living with severe disabilities, is hosting a charity fundraiser this month and is hoping to be able to give Zack £2,000 towards the machine by the end of the month.
Angie said: "I understand what it's like to want things to make a child better. We had to raise money to buy Bethany a special bed which wasn't funded on the NHS, which is why we set up the charity. We just want to be able to help Zack stay out of a wheelchair for a little while longer."
And the owners of local dance school Street Factory Studios, in Cobourg Street, are busy organising a fundraising event for Zack.
Toby and Joanna Gorniak, who run the dance school, are urging dancers and other local dance schools to join them for a charity flash mob in the city centre this month.
Toby said: "I've got six children of my own, my mother was a single mum and I have a brother with a slight disability and so knowing how hard it is Zack's story really hit me.
"Imagining someone not being able to do something like walking is very sad and we want to help him be able to continue without a wheelchair for as long as possible.
"The whole community needs to come together and help Zack – this could happen to anyone."
Toby's charity flash mob is scheduled to take place at 2pm on Saturday February 16 and anyone interested in taking part is asked to contact him on 07775 533750.
Toby is asking that all participants donate £1 to enter and try to raise as much sponsorship money as possible.
Toby and Joanna will also donate £1 from every person who attends any of their classes for the next two weeks to Zack's fund.
About 100 boys are born with the incurable DMD condition in the UK each year.
The majority need a wheelchair by the age of eight to 11 due to progressive muscle weakness.
They gradually lose their ability to walk, breathe, eat and speak.
Zack's mum said getting the Vecttor machine was the "only hope" she had of helping her son stay out of a wheelchair.
She said: "We're all really touched by what everyone is doing for Zack and can't believe how many people want to help.If I could thank everyone personally I would but I'd just like to say a massive thank you to all these people for their support and for trying to help Zack stay out of a wheelchair for a bit longer. It really does mean the world to us."
Zack's family have set up a charity account where people can make donations towards the machine. To donate visit Paypal and send the money to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively visit any branch of Lloyds TSB and make your donation in person stating it is for Zack's Footprints charity account.
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