Fundraising to help send a brave five-year-old with a brain tumour to Disneyland has topped £17,000 in donations – with more being added to the pot every single day.
Acacia Surridge-Hill, from Crewe, has been undergoing radiotherapy treatment since late last year when she was diagnosed with a rare diffuse midline glioma.
Last year the family began fundraising to make the Frozen fan’s dreams come true and the donations have kept pouring in.
Now, mum Carly and the rest of Acacia’s family are keen to say thank you to everyone who has supported them over the last few months – including those who have helped create priceless memories for her daughter.
She said: “We never expected the support that people have given us, and it’s all quite overwhelming really.
“It’s amazing though and shows how nice people can be when they see someone in need – but we definitely feel overwhelmed by it all.
“We have had complete strangers get in touch and make donations, as well as different companies and other organisations like Crewe Town.”
Acacia was diagnosed with tumour after Carly, noticed changes in her daughter’s face back in August and knew that something wasn’t right.
She took her to their local GP as soon as possible, where the doctor said it was probably Bell’s palsy, but Carly then sent the youngster to Leighton Hospital to be sure.
Acacia was put onto steroids for five days, which worked well at first, but on day six, Carly recalled how she was ‘dizzy, vomiting and crying’. The little girl was rushed back to hospital and had an MRI scan, which found a mass on her brain.
Soon after, Acacia had an operation to remove part of the tumour, but it wasn’t able to be removed completely as it would have left her fully paralysed.
Speaking to StokeonTrentLive in November, mum Carly said: “Two days after her operation, she was back walking up and down the stairs with the physiotherapy team watching her closely.
“She has had thirteen radiotherapy sessions, all done without general anaesthetic. She just lay there singing her heart out each time she had it done.
“If you looked at Acacia, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. People may notice that her eye looks different where the tumour caused pressure on her brain stem, but you can’t see the scar on her head, and she is so happy and positive.
“She just bounces around, so lively and full of energy.”
They are hoping to take Acacia to Disney when restrictions allow – but Carly says it’s ‘hard’ with the current circumstances.
“It’s hard at the moment because we can’t really do anything due to lockdown restrictions,” she said. “We want to do as much as we can and use the money to make memories.
“We have the money to take Acacia to Disney, but we are holding off until we know we will definitely be able to go.
“We want to book in as a more last minute booking and then go as soon as possible. We can’t really book for the future when we don’t really know how Acacia will be, or what the restrictions will be like.
“Acacia is amazing though and has just kept on bouncing around, up and down, all the time. She never stops.”
Supporters of the family have helped them create special memories for Acacia, something for which Carly is immensely grateful.
She added: “My hairdressers, Mark Anthony in Crewe, even gave Acacia a little pamper day.
“The manager, Sammy, closed the salon and curled Acacia’s hair, painted her nails, did her a bit of make-up and Elsa even came in to sing her a few songs and have a dance.
“Sammy is amazing and it was just lovely. She also invited Elsa to sing with Acacia, and Shanti, the nail salon above the hairdressers, did my nails for me so I could have a pamper too.”
As well as her pamper day, Acacia has also been treated to breakfast with her favourite princess, Elsa, at The Woodside in Crewe, and afternoon tea with Elsa, Anna and Olaf at Crewe Hall Hotel.
The family also had a visit from a life-size Elf On The Shelf on Christmas Eve – organised by Becky Stevenson.
“I don’t think Acacia really knows about the monetary side of all of the donations, but she just knows that there are a lot of people who are trying to get her to Disney and want to give her a lot of presents,” said Carly.
“Her brother, Landon, has also had a few things too, which is lovely as it means he hasn’t been left out. They both loved the Elf On The Shelf visit on Christmas Eve.
“As a family we just want to say thank you to everyone who has donated to the fundraising pages or sent us a kind message.
“Our friends and family have also been amazing in helping us to move house the week before Christmas. We had to move to a bit of a bigger space that was more suitable for Acacia now, and it was crazy getting everything sorted, so their help was really appreciated.
“We wish we could just give everyone a massive hug to say thank you, but at the moment it’s just a virtual one.”