Firefighters have pledged their support to six-year-old Maddie Laws who suffers from a genetic condition which means she cannot talk, walk properly or feed herself.
Crews will be giving half the funds raised from this Sunday’s Cookridge Fire Station Open Day (August 31) towards buying a special computer for Maddie which would ‘speak for her’ by analysing the movements of her eyes to communicate what she wants or feels.
Her mum, Kelly Laws, says the piece of technology would make the world of difference to her daughter, who was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome as a baby.
Kelly, 37, from Pudsey, said: “It’s incredibly frustrating situation for Maddie but this piece of technology could help take that feeling away.
“It’s unbelievable to see the firefighters supporting us in this way. We will be coming to the Open Day and I think Maddie will enjoy it!”
In an effort to raise the money for the kit, Kelly arranged for Maddie to have her long hair cut and donated to The Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for youngsters suffering from hair loss.
This has raised around £1,000 in sponsorship for the piece of kit, called a Tobii Eye Gaze, which costs up to £11,000.
Kelly, who is also mum to George, nine, and is married to Simon Laws, 43, said: “Maddie has no speech whatsoever. She can’t say the basics like I’m hungry or tired. She gestures with her eyes or gets upset.
“I work on the basis that everything I say to her she understands and I don’t treat her like a baby.”
Sadly, Maddie’s condition is incurable and also leaves her suffering from small fits every day. But this does not stop her enjoying life.
Maddie attends West SILC Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre, in Stanningley, and loves listening to music videos, especially Rihanna!
Kelly said: “She is a diva! She loves to dance and sing in her own little way. She has a lovely giggle too.
“She fills you with inspiration every day. She has an amazing personality and she is funny. She has brought so much love into our lives. It makes you appreciate the small things and we take every day at a time.”
The Open Day takes place between 10am and 4pm at the fire station on Otley Old Road.
The event includes kids’ attractions such as ‘Freddie the Fire Engine’ and a bouncy castle, as well as a raffle, tombola, hot oil display, wet the Firefighter, aerial ladder platform display, BBQ, refreshments and stalls.
The Open Day has been held for the previous 22 years and various charitable causes have benefited including Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Cancer Research, Annabelle Rose Trust, Eve’s Journey Trust Fund and Help for Heroes.
Each year the event also supports The Fire Fighters Charity, which helps injured or sick Firefighters and their families.
Firefighter Steve Nicholson, from Cookridge, said: “We saw Maddie’s story in the local press and it really pulled on our heart strings. We always try and support a local child or charity in need through the Open Day.
“It was really nice to meet Maddie and her mum and we really hope we can help make a difference. Most of the Firefighters at Cookridge have young families and can sympathise with how hard it must be for Kelly and Maddie.
“We hope the sun shines on Sunday and lots of people come out to support the Open Day and Maddie!”
In previous years the Open Day has raised between £400 and £800 and the weather can make all the difference. Steve is also contacting local banks to see if he can secure match-funding.
To donate to Maddie’s cause visit: youcaring.com/sponsormaddie