By Andy Hirst
These little girls are two in a million – for that’s the incredible amount of money raised in their names in just a few short months.
Seven-year-old Eden Smith from Holmfirth and four-year-old Beau from Roberttown are both battling rare and aggressive cancers called neuroblastoma and both need highly specialist treatment they can only get in the USA to try to prevent it from returning once they have had cancer treatments here to try to get rid of the disease.
The treatment in the USA is expensive and the families turned to their communities for help. The response has been both overwhelming and humbling at the same time.
Hundreds of people have been involved in fundraising and countless thousands have chipped in by supporting countless sponsored events.
Beau’s target was just over £300,000 but they’ve more than doubled that with it now standing at £636,000. Eden’s target was similar and £430,523 has been raised so far, again smashing the target.
Beau’s mum, Shirley Hepworth, said: “On Christmas Eve last year I made a public plea to the world to help me raise the funds needed to give my beautiful Beau the best possible chance at life.
“I could never have imagined how people would come together and push as hard as you have to make that happen. We are and will forever be so very grateful.
“It is now six months since I made that plea and we are 201% of Beau’s target. All money raised will go to the charity Solving Kids’ Cancer as we continue to support the organisation that has supported us and continues to support us, alongside the NHS through this difficult period of our lives.
“These two gorgeous little girls, friends for life, have raised over £1m in 2022 to fund their own treatments and to help other children suffering the effects of neuroblastoma and its treatment.
“We should all be so proud. We have all made a difference and proved what the power of people can do. What a community! From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”
The charity Solving Kids’ Cancer (https://www.solvingkidscancer.org.uk/) is dedicated to researching new ways to cure neuroblastoma and support families who have children with the disease.
Both youngsters need Bivalent Vaccine treatment to hopefully prevent the cancer returning which is only available at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Neuroblastoma returns in almost 50% of children who have had it and if this happens, fewer than one in 10 will survive. This is why the treatment in the USA is so important.
Beau has endured chemotherapy, extensive surgery, a stem cell transplant, radiotherapy and immunotherapy but unfortunately her cancer returned earlier this year and in April Shirley confirmed that Beau’s hoped for trip to the USA has been delayed while she undergoes further cancer treatment here.
Eden, of Wooldale, has completed gruelling chemotherapy, undergone a major operation and had stem cell treatment and radiotherapy. She now needs immunotherapy before she can go to the USA which is due to finish at the end of September followed by several weeks of scans and results.
If all goes well Eden may be able to go to the USA in November or December and the first trip there will be for a month of treatment followed by a further four visits over the next 12 months.
Lee said: “What Eden and Beau have done by uniting their communities and bringing them closer together for this cause is like something out of a film. We’ve never witnessed anything like it and I don’t think we ever will again.”
Probably the most high profile fundraising event for Eden was this month when five members from Northern Fitness Gym in Linthwaite covered 315 miles on foot in under 13 days around the island of Fiji. That’s the equivalent of a marathon a day but they did it and during the run suffered infected blisters and dehydration along with far too many general aches and pains to mention.
But Northern Fitness Gym owner Kev Bower said the pain meant nothing to them compared to what Eden has been through.
And he has paid this personal tribute to Eden.
“I want to thank you, Eden, for being the catalyst that has brought so many people together to do good things. We have seen the very best in people and you have created this being so strong, resilient and you are loved by many more people across the whole world – more than you can ever imagine.”
He added: “Eden has become the heartbeat of Northern Fitness Gym in the last six months and while the fundraising may slow down now, our love and determination to see Eden recover and the family move on will never decrease. It’s been an honour and a privilege to do our bit.”
Eden’s mum, Jen, has sent a message to Kev saying: “It is us who need to thank you, Kev, and the whole of the Northern Fitness Gym team. Having not met you before, to do such an amazing thing for our little girl and our family is so incredibly kind and good and we will be forever grateful.”
The hashtags for the girls’ campaigns are #GetBeauToSloan and #edensarmy and updates about Beau can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/950984439133324/?ref=share
* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.