AN APPEAL to help buy a new wheelchair for a seven-year-old born with a rare muscle-wasting condition prompted an ‘overwhelming’ response from the Fulham community.
The delighted parents of Jamie Keats were inundated with donations after their story appeared in the Chronicle – and they have now raised the £18,000 needed to meet their son’s needs.
Jamie, who lives off Fulham Palace Road, has been desperate to upgrade to a bigger chair after growing out of the one he has had since the age of two.
The bright young pupil of St Augustine’s Primary School has spinal muscular atrophy, which means he cannot stand, walk or even sit unaided. His powered wheelchair allows him to get around by himself and play with friends.
Now, just three weeks after the Keats’s story was published, the family have raised enough to give Jamie independence for years to come.
His parents Nick, 41, and Eugenia, 45, said they were touched by the response from readers.
“It’s been overwhelming,” said Eugenia. “There’s been a lot of generosity from a lot of people and now we’re up to the level we need to get a new chair – it’s amazing.
“We want to thank everybody in the community, all the charities that have helped us, all the people that have raised money for us; basically everybody who has been involved.
“We want to thank the Chronicle for putting the story out there, we didn’t know if we would get a response, but it’s been truly fantastic.
“When people have a special reason to do so they can be very generous and it’s lovely.”
The Keats, who also have another son, three-year-old Alex, hope to have the new wheelchair by June.
Last Thursday, the family cheered on as father and son Paul, 54, and Charlie Mosen, 33, completed a swimathon at Virgin Active, in Lillie Road, to take them over the fundraising finishing line.
Paul, who is also a wheelchair user, was spurred into action after his granddaughter Lilly, seven, told him about her classmate. Through his personal ties to Chelsea Football Club, first-team players such as John Terry and Ashley Cole sponsored the pair as they completed 100 lengths of the pool.
Mr Mosen, a Palemead Close resident, said: “I haven’t swum for years but got back in the pool after I heard about Jamie, as he’s my granddaughter’s friend.
“It was exhausting but worth it.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to Chelsea and the first team who were very generous and John Terry for organising it. I’d like to thank Virgin Active for letting us use the pool for free and everyone else who donated.”
Last week, Southall-based radio DJ, Amit Sodha, 35, raised almost £4,000 for the family by taking part in the London Marathon. The family has also sought funding from a number of charities, including Childline and The Turbo Trust.