Family, friends and supporters raising money to help a little girl with a rare neurodevelopmental disorder have been walking a combined 500 miles via groups in Thanet, Scotland and Australia,
Five -year-old Ella Gonzalez-Bello, from Margate, has White-Sutton syndrome and is non-verbal, non-mobile and has issues with sight, hearing, eating and development. Ella also has epilepsy which has progressively worsened with the youngster suffering between 50 and 100 fits a day.
This has a huge impact on the little one and her loving family, parents Samantha and Christopher and big sister Mia. They require specialist home improvements and equipment and while some of the cost is covered by grants, there is a £40,000 shortfall which family are seeking to raise.
Ella’s great-aunt Muriel Ward, from Broadstairs, has been one of the organisers of the ‘500’ walk which, combined with raffle donations from Hogman family butchers in St Peter’s, has raised some £2,500 for the cause.
In Scotland a group walked their miles in Dundee, while another relative completed their miles in London’s The Big Half Marathon, in Australia walkers set off along Bondi Beach at sunset coinciding with the Thanet group warming up to walk last Sunday morning (September 3) from Broadstairs bandstand to Margate’s Turner Contemporary.
Muriel said: “Our collective walked 200 miles between us – including the dogs walking! About 30 of us walked with around 70 people seeing us off.
“We wanted to make an impact so we were waving to everyone and singing our family song 500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers).
“Ella started the walk in her disabled pushchair, we had water breaks and ice cream and finished at the Turner Contemporary.
“We raised about£1,500; Hogman’s have raised about £500 and the Scotland Kilt walk raised £400.
“I’d never realised what a big community we have in the area. Everywhere I go people are asking how they can help, really just wow!
“It was a lovely day, everyone was out, people were even chasing after me with money. There were adults and children on scooters and in pushchairs, nans and grandads, it was fun.”
Saga worker Samantha and civil servant Christopher are converting the living room at their home into a bedroom for Ella and the dining room into a wet room and building an extension to replace the family living area.
A fundraising page set up by family has so far reached £13,135 of its £40,000 target.