Esme's First Steps: Jetting off for a better future
BEAMING with excitement, little Esme Clark is packed and ready for an operation that will change her life – thanks to the incredible generosity of Standard readers.
This month the Standard launched a campaign to raise £50,000 in just four weeks to give Esme, who has cerebral palsy, a spinal operation in America that will help her to walk for the first time.
Now the Clark family are delighted to announce that seemingly impossible target has been reached and the three-year-old is jetting off for her adventure this weekend.
"I’m going on the big plane to America," Esme said.
Mum Alison and dad Laith, from Whelford near Fairford, said it was hard to express how grateful they were to the hundreds of people who have reached out to help their little girl.
"We keep saying we’re overwhelmed but that just doesn’t seem strong enough," Alison said. "People have just astonished and astounded us – friends, family and people who we don’t even know."
Esme Clark, aged 3
Now over their first hurdle, Alison and Laith are looking on to the marathon ahead.
In less than a week, they will have to go through the terrifying ordeal of handing over their only child for a spinal operation, which will effectively re-wire her nervous system so that she can control her legs.
Dad Laith, 40, said he was unable to sleep with the worry of what might happen.
"It’s constantly on my mind because there are lots of unknowns," he said. "She is so little and it is major surgery."
He said that after the operation, Esme would be floppy like a baby and have to re-learn how to use her muscles.
"In effect we’re undoing three and a half years of natural work in the space of a four-hour operation. But the plus side is the bad stuff won’t come back," he said.
While Alison and Laith would give anything to take Esme’s place, they know that the hard work and anguish will be worth it – and they are grateful for it.
Alison, 41, said: "This isn’t a magic wand; Esme’s not going to stand up and walk out of the operation. But it gives her the chance to one day do it."
It could take just two weeks or two years for the benefits of the operation to show, but already Esme is planning what she will do when she can stand on her own two feet.
First, she will buy a pair of silver sparkly sandals from a regular shoe shop and then she will play a game of hide and seek with her best friend Harry.
To follow Esme's progress and to make a donation towards her physiotherapy sessions visit milesforesme.com