Parents of St Helens girl urge public to support campaign
The parents of a 12-year-old girl from Haresfinch, in St Helens, are urging the public to get behind a charity’s 20th anniversary campaign after it supported their daughter when she was just four years old.
Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, recently launched its #Team20 campaign to celebrate its foundation in 2000.
Throughout 2020 Caudwell Children is encouraging people to engage with the charity in a number of ways, like taking part in a fundraising event, volunteering for the charity, or raising awareness of its services, in order to join their #Team20.
Susanna Petersburska was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that stiffens the muscles and restricts mobility, and at the age of four she became a wheelchair user.
Susanna’s parents Monika and Andrzey had read about Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), an operation used to improve muscle stiffness caused by abnormal communication between the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles in cerebral palsy.
The operation was shown to improve walking patterns and functional mobility and Monika and Andrzey were determined that Susanna would have the operation.
At the time, in 2011, SDR surgery was not routinely commissioned by the NHS and the life-changing operation was only available in St Louis, in the United States.
However, the cost of the operation was upwards of £60,000 which was way beyond the family’s budget.
Luckily, Monika and Andrzey were told about Caudwell Children, and having contacted the charity they agreed to support the family.
“They were amazing,” said Andrzey. “They helped coordinate a fundraising campaign for Susanna and they created a Just Giving page for us.
“They got the local media behind our appeal which highlighted the support that we were also getting from the restaurant chain Frankie and Benny’s.
“They also funded some of the travel and subsistence costs to and from the United States.”
Following the surgery Susanna’s condition improved dramatically and she was able to walk much better. “In the short term, between the ages of five to six, everything was fantastic and her mobility was excellent,” said Monika. “However, as she has got older the improvements have slowed down but without the operation Susanna would still be crawling, she’d be in a much worse situation.”
Susanna has gone on to become a talented swimmer and before the Coronavirus outbreak was taking to the pool three times a week at Prescott Swimming Club. “She adores swimming,” continued Monika. “She wants to swim in an organised team and she’s already qualified for a disabled swimming competition.”
Her increased mobility has also seen her excel at school. As Andrzey explained: “She has really good results from school with English being her favourite subject.
“She’s very smart and generally a very good all round pupil and her older sister Maja, who is 15, has been a great support to her at school and at home.”
Although Susanna’s mobility is not perfect it’s much better than it was before the operation and for that Monika and Andrzey are extremely grateful. “We can’t thank Caudwell Children enough for all their support it’s had a life-changing effect on our daughter,” exclaimed Monika. “I’d encourage the public to get behind the charity’s #Team20 campaign.
“I’d urge people to get involved in any way as even a small amount will contribute in helping families, like ours, who desperately needed support.”
Trudi Beswick, CEO of Caudwell Children, is delighted by the family’s appeal. She said: “It only seems like yesterday when we agreed to support Susanna.
“She’s defied the odds over the years and it’s wonderful to see how she’s developed both academically and physically, through her swimming.
“With the public’s help we can support even more disabled children and young people like Susanna.”
Following the government guidance, restricting social gatherings, Trudi is encouraging people to take on a fundraising challenge in their own home, and says that the charity has created a number of virtual events that people can take part in.
With the Coronavirus set to effect more lives across the UK Trudi is also hoping that members of the public will make a donation in what is a difficult time for the charity sector. As she concluded “Caudwell Children has provided life-changing support for over 50,000 disabled children, with over 653 medical conditions, since its foundation in 2000, and we must continue supporting disabled children through this crisis and peruse our vision of giving them choice, opportunity, dignity and understanding.
“With the public’s help we will be able to do just that!”
For more information on how you can get involved in Caudwell Children’s #Team20 campaign visit the web page here.