A LITTLE boy, whose bravery has inspired a massive fund-raising campaign, has given heartfelt thanks after a wave of generosity has helped him move closer to fulfilling his dreams.
Young Brandon Ballance has battled a brain tumour for the majority of his short life after being diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous growth when he was just two.
It has been a tough time for the courageous eight-year-old, from Amble, who has had to endure courses of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and lengthy stays in hospital.
An appeal was launched a few weeks ago to raise £15,000 to take him on a dream holiday to America and help achieve his long-standing wish of swimming with dolphins.
Touched by Brandon’s ordeal, the community – and beyond – has come together, helping to raise around £13,000 for the cause.
It means that the family have now been able to book the trip – a two-week stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in Florida in August.
Brandon’s insurance – which cost £2,500 alone – has also been cleared and to top it all, the family has received two free passes to swim with dolphins.
With his wish set to come true, a delighted Brandon said: “I want to thank everyone. It really means a lot to me. I am just very inspired by nature and I really like animals. I love dolphins. They are really friendly.
“They are kind and loving creatures. To get to swim with dolphins would really mean a lot.”
Even though the holiday has been booked, the family is still eager to reach the £15,000 mark so that money is available to pay for excursions during the trip and help buy keepsakes of Brandon fulfilling his lifelong dream.
His mum, Sarah Nicholson, has admitted she is overwhelmed by people’s generosity and said that the prospect of the holiday has put a smile back on her little boy’s face.
“I have seen a change in him over the last couple of weeks,” she said. “He is so full of life and he is so excited. He is just buzzing by the whole thing. It is making a difference because he has got something to focus on.”
She added: “I want to thank everyone for their support.
“No matter how many times I say thank you, it doesn’t seem enough. To come this far in four weeks is amazing, it is absolutely overwhelming.”
Last Saturday, a sponsored walk from Alnwick to Amble raised close to £2,500 for the cause while a race night, hosted by Morpeth Sunday League side River Coquet FC on Friday, which featured a sponsored head-shave and body-waxing, raised more than £400.
The league itself has donated a further £200 to the cause while Ashington RAOB Club has given a further £350 to the fund, as well as providing an England cricket shirt, signed by Steve Harmison, to the family, which is set to be auctioned or raffled.
The fund-raising mission continues on Saturday when the Co-operative Funeral Care, in Amble, hosts a sponsored car wash in its car park between 9.30am to 12.30pm.
A charitable account – Brandon’s Wish Fund – is also up and running. It has been set up with Lloyds TSB and the account number is 15355568 and the sort code is 772004.
For more information about the fund-raising events or to donate to the cause, contact Sarah on 07725 147188.