TODAY is the day that a brave little boy, who has battled a brain tumour for most of his life, flies out to America for the holiday of a lifetime – thanks to an enormous fund-raising effort.
And as nine-year-old Brandon Ballance jets off to the States to fulfil his long-held wish of swimming with dolphins, his mother has given a heart-warming message to those who raised more than £17,000 for him, saying: “Thank you for making his dream come true.”
It is a trip that the youngster will remember forever, having endured a painstaking journey of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and lengthy stays in hospital since the diagnoses of an inoperable cancerous growth when he was just two.
Brandon’s American adventure comes after an appeal was launched earlier this year to raise £15,000 to take him on a trip across the pond to swim with dolphins.
The Amble lad’s courage captured the imagination far and wide, and an overwhelming show of support – which included Geordie star Cheryl Cole donating signed memorabilia to aid the cause – helped smash the fund-raising target.
It turned his dream into a reality – and he can’t stop smiling.
“It means the absolute world to Brandon because he has been to hell and back,” said mum Sarah Nicholson, 33.
“He is absolutely buzzing. This opportunity is absolutely overwhelming and thank you doesn’t seem enough.”
Sarah and Brandon are joined on the two-week trip by his four-year-old sister Sienna and gran Pauline and have booked to stay in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – extra special for animal-loving Brandon.
He has also been given a treat on home-soil too.
Alnwick Wedding Cars was set to provide a Rolls-Royce this morning to take the family to Newcastle Airport and is due to collect them in a Jaguar on their return – the cars are two of Brandon’s favourite.
The youngster has also been nominated for the Matthew Phillips Child of Courage award in this year’s Pride of Northumberland, organised by Northeast Press – publishers of the Gazette.
Sarah said: “Since he was two, Brandon has shown so much courage and bravery over the years.
“He has been in and out of hospital, which is like our second home, and he is well known by the nurses for being so courageous. I would like to let him shine and let him know that he is special.”