We were very happy to add our support to a £300,000 fundraising drive to improve the survival chances of a 21-month-old local cancer patient.
Harper Walker is the brave and charismatic daughter of Adam Walker and Jenny Huddart, who both work at Newman College in Chadderton.
Harper has been diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer that only provides a 40-50% chance of long-term survival without highly specialised intervention only available in New York.
Jenny and Adam are raising the money to pay for the potentially life-saving treatment with the total currently standing at almost £130,000 from 2,831 donations and increasing all the time.
We added our support by holding a fundraising day that included raffle prizes, football scratch cards, fancy dress and pumpkin carving competitions, together with a barbecue, which together raised £1122.55.
Mum Jenny had originally hoped to attend our fundraiser, but a run of illnesses meant that Harper unfortunately had to be re-admitted to hospital.
But in a message to everyone taking part, she says: "Harper is inspirational and truly my hero. How determined she is, and how much she wants to live is keeping us going. If she was there today, she would be giving people fist pumps, high fives, and a big thumbs up!"
The fundraising campaign is to send Harper to the Sloan Kettering Centre in New York, where a trial is improving outcomes for children with stage 4, high risk, aggressive Neuroblastoma. The New York treatment will begin after Harper has completed her treatment here in the UK. It lasts three years and has to be paid for in advance.
Jenny adds: "Harper's current statistics look brutal - she has just less than a 50% chance of a five-year survival, a 60% chance of relapse with only a 5% chance of surviving a relapse.
"The Sloan Kettering Centre are stating a drop to 40% chance of a relapse with a 50% to 70% chance of survival from a relapse.
"As anybody would, we are doing everything in our power to get her there, and to give her the life she deserves. I truly believe she will go on to change the world!"
Our fundraising day was organised by Assistant Marketing Manager Kenika Gumbs, who says: We have a local angel who needs our assistance, and organising this event had to be done.
"Looking into Harper's story touched me deeply because I have friends who have gone through the loss of loved ones due to cancer. Harper is the epitome of a fighter; she continues to fight on so let's continue to fight on with her and help her get to America for the treatment she needs."
We were first alerted to Harper's plight by Door Production worker Tony Pilkington, whose wife Samantha works at the nursery that cares for Harper while mum and dad are at work - Adam in the college's maths department and Jenny in pastoral care.
Harper's journey is being chronicled on a Facebook page called Harper's Army22, which chronicles the fundraising support from all over Greater Manchester and keeps its followers updated on Harper's condition and treatment.
In a post on the page soon after Harper's diagnosis, Jenny wrote: "This little girl has fought cancer since she was born…The consultant told us she doesn't present the same way neuroblastoma patients normally do. She is happy, healthy (to look at), good appetite, doesn't moan or cry in pain, and is apparently well covered! I love this saying; it means she has a bit of chub!"