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George’s First Steps: Update

It’s been well over 2 years since our little George had his SDR operation in America so I thought it about time I brought you an update on his progress.

For those not aware of the history of this story, George is my nephew’s 7-year-old son who has cerebral palsy and for whom in 2012 a massive fundraising bid took place in order to pay for this life-changing operation (full story at: http://wp.me/p1q0nb-iH  and on Facebook at Georges First Steps). Since that operation life has been so much better for him and his parents: he goes to a normal school, gets… Click here to read on

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George’s First Steps: A Special Message

Wanted share this is a special message from George:

Thank you Dr TS Park and Dr Matthew Dobbs for giving me the chance to stand on my feet and be like my friends xxx

Enjoy the video people: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgXU_sjw7Z8

George has only just learnt to push his walker himself after 6.5 months of hard, hard work so what he will achieve in this next 6 months is too exciting to think about. To think that when he was born his parents found out he had quadriplegic cerebral palsy doctors said he would never walk, talk or know who anyone was…….well hasn’t he proved them wrong!!!

 

GEORGE’S FIRST STEPS: UPDATE

As promised, here is an update on the progress of our little George since his life-changing SDR operation to help him cope with cerebral palsy that took place in America six months ago.

Six months? Yes, it’s really been that long and what a difference to his and his parents lives. He still needs help when using his walker as it is heavy for him, but each day he gets stronger with the physio and exercises that must continue daily. Each day there is improvement, and like all children, he gets his off days but he comes bouncing back. To think, six months ago he couldn’t sit unaided, spent a lot of his time on the floor, shuffling on his stomach to get anyway, and struggled to do the simplest of tasks we take for granted. Not any more. He’s gained so much independence, even having friends from school in to play and taking part in the school nativity play at Christmas; his speech is improving, and his cheekiness and sense of fun is as wonderful as ever, if not more so.

Rather than go on listing his achievements, his proud parents have put together a video which I hope you’ll take a few minutes of day to look at here. I’ve watched it several times and still my eyes fill with tears at what has been made possible by each and every one of you who donated and helped to make this possible. The closing statement on the video says it all…

UPDATE – George’s First Steps

Put out the bunting, cue the fanfare – because he’s home. Our little George is home from America, and I am pleased to say everything went well and he will shortly be returning to school.

“Look at the determination on my face! I had a great therapy session with daddy this morning ending with 30 steps…..I am trying :)”

The operations were successful and he is now on his way to a new phase of his life thanks to everyone’s generosity in donating to the fund to send him to the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri for the  operations, generosity that far exceeded the target and thus funds are secured to cover all his therapy and physio etc for the next seven years.

So, what has happened? The operations were to remove the spasticity in his legs and now begins the long, hard work as he learns to walk, step by step. A bit more each day. It’s tough going for him but he’s one determined little boy, as this photo shows. And with determination like that, he will not fail.

The scissoring of George’s legs has completely gone, and he full range of movement in his feet, legs and hips now, which is great. He can move his feet up and down, can side sit, sit up and go into a crab position and even touch his own toes – a first for him. He can stand and take his own weight and has managed to walk thirty steps – something we never thought we’d see. George is going to improve a lot more and everyone is excited to see what he achieves. The surgeon has said that George will walk with the walker and there is a possibility they will be able to get him on sticks when he returns to the States in twelve months’ time. George also sleeps soundly through the night now (well, most nights) and no longer wakes up grouchy because he’s stiff and sore, and his speech is improving.

“Look, Mum, I can touch my toes now!”

Everything is positive and we are really proud of him – he’s been such a brave boy who didn’t complain once during all of this; he’s not lost that infectious smile and laugh.

Thank you so much Dr Park for changing George’s life (and his parents) in such a positive way. Already the changes we see are going to make such a huge difference and we can’t wait to see how much more he achieves.

 

The Day Has Come: George’s First Steps

Getting ready for surgery

By the time you read this, our little George will be in theatre undergoing his life-changing SDR surgery at St Louis Hospital, Missouri. He is only there thanks to every single one of you who has donated towards the £55,000 needed to send him and his parents across the Atlantic for this monumentous moment. Not only did we reach target, it was exceeded beyond all hopes to £80,000! This means the continued physio he will need as he grows will be paid for the next seven years and means for the first time in five years, his parents, Nicki and Gary, can sit back, relax and start really enjoying life with their son.

George and his surgeon

George’s surgeon has said George is very stiff in his legs but was pleased to see the movement George was capable of doing. He says surgery will really help George – he will be able to sit on a chair or stool, his scissoring will stop, his left arm will really improve and he will walk with a frame in all environments!!! He will need a wheelchair for distances but should be able to move on to sticks at some point. It’s truly amazing that all this can be achieved considering the prognosis when George was first diagnosed. He’s an amazing fighter, determined, cheeky, happy with an infectious laugh.

The Moto Mont Blanc Climbing Team

None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the unstinted help people have given, the fundraising events: hair shaving, sky diving, bungee jumping, cake bakes, sponsored slim, mountain-climbing, marathons run, raffles, donations, fun days, picnics and boxing matches, cookery books sold, auctions and bike rides and much, much more to raise these funds.

There’s still a long way for him to go, and will be some weeks before he will be able to fly home and begin his new life. His classmates at school are all waiting for him to return, even the British Airways cabin crew fell in love with him and ensured George and his parents and a good flight and the captain has even put in a request to BA for the team to crew his flight home.

The BA crew and pilot on flight out.

I am sure there will be huge celebration family party in his honour. I sincerely wish we could invite you all along to join in but I know your best wishes are with him.

I will keep you informed of his progress. Again, thank you all for your help. We couldn’t have done it for him without your support.

We love you, George. Good luck!

A full diary of events and sums raised can be found here.

Silent Auction for George’s First Steps

Starting today, bidding on our Silent Auction for George’s First Steps (click on link below to open) for full details and instructions how to bid:

GFS Auction Brochure (2)

Autumn on the River: included in auction

Brochure includes instructions on how to bid. Some great items for sale and all for one very worthy cause. Please spread the word and the brochure.

Newsflash: Special Item now up for bidding – a signed Heston Blumenthal ‘The Fat Duck cookbook. Bidding starting at £10.

Click here to catch up with latest news on my Slimming for George Campaign.

Many thanks.

SLIMMING FOR GEORGE

WILL YOU SPONSOR ME TO SLIM FOR GEORGE? YOU COULD WIN A COPY OF MY LATEST NOVEL OR A PAINTING! (SEE BELOW!)

With the fundraising well underway for George’s First Steps to get my great nephew George to the USA for a life-changing SDR operation (read about George), I have been racking my brains as to what I could do to help reach our target of £55,000. I had planned various bucket collections in a large shopping mall close to where I live. This has proved negative, as there is already a huge campaign in the region for a little girl for the self same thing as George.

Thus I have decided to do a sponsored slim, my “SLIMMING FOR GEORGE”. This is over a 3-month period, 5 May to 5 August 2012. I need to do this for George, and for me. For those that don’t know me, I am a very large lady, as those that do can vouch. I never used to be like this. Believe it or not, as a child I was skinny. Really skinny. The sort of child who, if she stepped on a kerb drain, would fall between the grilles. But years of good living, poor health and steroids, and a sedentary lifestyle have led to me being almost twice the woman my husband married (his words though he is inclined to exaggerate) some 30 odd years ago. You don’t get many chances in life to change things. This is my last chance to change me and help change George’s life too. That’s got to be good!

So how will I be doing this? Over the years I’ve tried WeightWatchers, Slimming Worlds, the Cambridge diet, the seefood diet (yes, see food and eat it – joke). I’ve been there, done that, and got the T-shirt a size larger each time for my efforts. Doesn’t leave me much hope, does it? I will be doing this alone, at home, on my own, which makes the task even harder. You see I have so much to lose, and in return, little George has so much to gain – being able to walk.  Which is why am asking if you would sponsor me, even just a small amount, a pound even, it would help. Every pound helps us to reach our target. If you would like to sponsor Slimming For George please email mail@kit-domino.com with how much you would like to contribute, your details so I can add you to the official sponsorship form, and if needed an official  form for your use too. Perhaps you might even want to join me in Slimming for George? Now, that would be really marvellous.

Many of you have already contributed to helping George over the past few years by sponsoring me on our Walks for George each summer – which we are doing again this year – and many of you have this year donated direct to George’s First Steps, for which George and all the family are exceedingly grateful. So I’m not asking you for more, but perhaps you could still help me by asking your friends or family to sponsor me? It’s a big ask, I know, but George is unable to ask for himself so we have to do this for him.

My weight will be officially recorded at the start and finish and as I’m feeling brave, there will be photographic evidence of before and after. Don’t panic, you won’t be seeing me in a bikini, perish the thought. That would put you right off your breakfast! Nor will I be telling what my actual starting weight is; although for a donation to George’s First Steps, I will! (See Competition below) I will also be keeping a Diary on this blog site to track my progress.

Again, if you could sponsor me I will love you forever, and George will love you for even longer. Thank you.

Guess Kit Domino’s Starting Weight Competition

For a donation to George’s First Step, a prize of either a copy of my recently published novel Every Step of the Way (worldwide) or a Kit Domino painting (UK only) will be given to whoever correctly guesses my starting weight, chosen at random. To enter, make a donation to Georges’s First Steps (click here), ensuring to leave your name, then leave a comment below or on my Diary page with your guess weight, again saying who your are and your choice of prize. Note, your comment will not be visible immediately as all comments need to be authorised to avoid spam). If you have already donated and your name appears on the Thank You page (Click here), you are already entitled to enter Guess My Weight. A clue to help you: When I married my husband in 1979, I weighed 9 stone. Good Luck!

George’s First Steps

Many of you will probably already be aware my family has over the last few years been fundraising to in order to help my nephew’s little 4-year-old boy, George, receive therapy and physio for his cerebral palsy through Brainwave and the Footsteps Foundation in Oxford.

News has recently arrived that he has been accepted to have a life-changing SDR operation carried out at St.Louis Children’s Hospital, Missouri as the NHS in the UK will not fund such operations despite there being two major hospitals here than have surgeons qualified to perform it. We can’t even get him on the waiting list yet and time is running out. George is a prime candidate but time is of the essence. If it is left too late, he will be too old for the operation to work.

To this end the family are now in full battlegear as we need to raise £55,000 by November this year in order to send George and his parents across to America. The hospital is confident the op will work and that eventually George will be able to walk with the aid of a sticks and lead a near normal life. It isn’t just George’s life that will benefit, but that of his parents too. This young couple has striven hard to help their son and George has defied all the doctors’ and experts’ opinions of his prognosis at birth. George is a real fighter, full of determination as well as being a happy and content child. You can never be sad when you are with George, his smile and laughter light up a room.

George’s parents have recently been interviewed by the local press and appeared on network TV and already, after just the first week, we have reached over £6,000.00. We’ve a long way to go but get there we shall. One lady living in Spain is being sponsored to have her head shaved in public with the press present, and many friends have already given generously and offered help, one small company has donated £1,000, a printer producing all our leaflets and posters and flyers free of charge many other events have been organised. For all that has been done so far I, along with George and his parents, can’t thank you enough.

If you would like to donate, no matter how small, click here to go to his website where you can donate or find out more about George’s and the fundraising progress. Below are also links to the recent interviews and press coverage reports (although I am aware the TV interview link doesn’t work outside of the UK – apologies).

North Devon Gazette click here            ITV West   click here

And as a thank you for bearing with me today, over on my Recipes page is an irresistible one for Doughnut Muffins. Click Here

Walk for George 2011

If we had planned to walk on the warmest day of the year to date, we couldn’t have chosen a better Sunday morning than dawned on Sunday, 26th June. Those of us hardy (or is that foolhardy?) enough gathered at the Cumberland Obelisk by Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park  at 11 am. Once the hugging and greeting of family and friends, some not seen for 12 months, was complete, catch up chatter and coffee consumed, we were off, maps in hand, taking a different course to that walked last year. Left behind were several family members, including my 85 year old mother, volunteering to watch the bags and paraphernalia too heavy or hot to carry. Last year, Mother had completed the walk with me; this year she thought the heat would be too much for her. A wise decision.

The path led us alongside the polo ground before dipping down towards the beautiful gardens and over a bridge and alongside the lake. Ducks and swans followed, seeking food, birds darted and sang overhead and squirrels flitted across the paths, shimming up tree trunks, tails swishing as they watched from branches overhead. The gardens and lakeside, a glorious riot of colour from rhododendrons and carpets of bluebells in springtime, were not so pretty this year to an artist’s eye but they were nonetheless magnificent in their green splendour, the trees provided much needed shade as the thermometer rose. In a quiet glade we came across a refreshment stand with seating where we readily stopped, treating ourselves to an ice-cream or lolly and a well-earned rest before continuing.

We took our time strolling along, a motley string of adults, children and dogs enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, taking turns to push George in his buggy (well, not the dogs, obviously). We stopped by the cascade, a cool respite, a good excuse for a photo shoot, before moving on to admire the ancient Roman ruins from Lepcis Magna in Tripoli. Onward and upward we trod our merry way. The chosen route had been on the flat but now the ground rose, the path steep in a long, hard slog uphill in the heat and I fell behind, stopping frequently to rest and catch my breath. Above the treeline I could see the monument. Almost there, I thought, and pushed myself on. Only to find it was the 100 ft totem pole; I still had another half mile to go. This was definitely further than last year. Ahh well, quick rest, deep breaths and move on.

At last, I reached the meeting point. The last one back, much to the relief of my worrying mother (she’s a fanatical worrier, my mother). The route had been approximately 6 miles; I don’t think at that point I could have walked another step and fell into a proffered chair in the shade in need of a large drink. My niece had the foresight the night before to make up a bottle of squash and put in the freezer. What a refreshing, welcome drink to this thirsty walker that was. Baskets at the ready, we enjoyed a smashing picnic, although in truth, it was far too hot to eat much. Afterwards, whilst us old ’uns rested and chatted, the children played football, cajoled adults to take them down to the water’s edge to catch tadpoles or, more importantly, join the queue for another ice-cream.

The day was a great success, enjoyed by everyone. Over £3,000 was raised on the day and that, along with other donations still coming in, we have enough money to cover all George’s Footsteps and Brainwave therapy up to the end of 2012, which is just fantastic. He would not be able to do this therapy without everyone’s committment and so for that his parents, family and George himself thank you so, so much!

WALK FOR GEORGE

I’d like to introduce you to George and tell about Walk For George 2011. 

George is a very special member of my family, the 4-year-0ld son of a nephew. When he was 3 days old a MRI Scan revealed George had suffered a major brain haemorrhage before birth. Doctors said he would never walk, never talk and have severe disabilities including but not limited to cerebral palsy, epilepsy and possible vision problems.  We were also told that he would never know his parents or understand the world or have a normal life. As you can imagine, that was the day life stopped for his parents. What makes this all the poignant for my family is the heartbreaking family history in the years before his birth, something not discussed here. But George has proved those doctors wrong. 

With courage and determination, the constant therapy and hospital visits have eased the stiffness in his limbs caused by cerebral palsy, his left arm and right leg being most affected. To everyone’s delight he can see, he recognises his parents and the rest of his family, he can speak words, learning more and more all the time, and do new things, things we never believed would be possible. What is all the more remarkable is that his is always smiling. His laugh is infectious, his smile so captivating you want to hug him to bits. And, although painful for him, he wants to walk, he tries constantly, pulling himself upright wherever he can. He’s come a long way since those first dark days following his entry into the world. We are so proud of all he has achieved.

No small part in this achievement has been the wonderful help and therapy provided by The Footsteps Foundation, a marvellous centre in Warborough, Oxfordshire that helps people such as George using a harness contraption known as a Spider. George thinks it’s wildly funny and laughs all the time he’s strapped into it. But the sessions at Footsteps don’t come cheap. There is no government funding for this. All his therapy there has to be paid for by his parents. 

Although something never openly discussed and agreed, my family and many family friends decided we would help George and his young parents as much as possible by raising funds to finance the much-needed therapy sessions.

Walk For George began in May 2009 with a sponsored walk around Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park. Unfortunately I was not able to take part so instead auctioned on of my paintings and donated the the three-figure sum raised.                                       

Last year I did the walk. It was a beautiful hot Sunday in May, the bluebells and rhododendrons out in full glory. (A few photographs are included below. I hope you enjoy them.) My 84 year old mother and I might have been the last ones to complete the 4 mile route but complete it we did, flopping down exhausted but happy to join in the picnic and watch the youngsters enjoy a game of football. A fabulous day out enjoyed by young and old. Where do children get all that energy?

Walk For George 2011 takes place this year on 26 June, at Virginia Water Lake. I shall be taking part again, although mother has declined she’s happy to watch over bags and the food and the little ones. 

If you would like to sponsor me or perhaps make a donation to the cause, George and his parents, and myself, would be exceedingly grateful.

I make no apology for writing about this event. There are times when I truly wish I had a magic wand and could make it all better, not just for George, but for all children who live with this debilitating condition.

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