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Brave teenager marks the anniversary of her life-saving surgery with fundraising challenge

News   •   May 28, 2014 14:45 BST

Callista Dowling, a teenager from Abercarn, South Wales has set herself and three best friends, Laura and Rebecca Jolliffe and Katy Cousins a fundraising challenge of filling a whole calendar with the birthdays of family, friends, neighbours, teachers and classmates in aid of children’s charity, The Sick Children’s Trust.

Callista was born with a neuromuscular condition, a type of Congenital Myopathy which results in a weakness of the muscles and also Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. She has lived with the condition throughout her life but in May last year Callista was admitted into Great Ormond Street Hospital for urgent surgery to treat an 85 degree curvature of her spine.

Following her surgery Callista was in hospital for a further nine days and her parents, Chrissy and Leighton were able to stay close by with younger brother, William, in Guilford Street House, a ‘Home from Home’ provided by the charity, located just around the corner from the hospital.

Mum, Chrisy, 34, says “Callie is such an inspiration to us; she is so brave and never gives up on anything. She really wanted to take part in a challenge to fundraise for The Sick Children’s Trust as having us all by her side when she was in hospital was a great comfort to her. Callie’s disability means she is unable to take part in any physical challenges so her good friend, Rebecca, suggested doing a 365 day Birthday challenge and the support they have received has been incredible.

“I am so proud of all the girls and not only have they completed this unique challenge, they have also organised a family fun evening at the Newport Centre in June to add to their fundraising. Being close by to Callie while she was in hospital was amazing and I don’t know what we would have done without The Sick Children’s Trust. I hope that the money raised will help to support many families in the future who are in similar situations with poorly children in hospitals far from home.”

The birthday challenge involved filling a whole calendar with the birthdays of people the girls knew directly. The group set themselves a deadline for the challenge to be completed by Thursday 1st May as this marked the one year anniversary of Callista’s surgery. The girls have now completed the challenge raising over £600 and in total received 1,309 birthday entries into their calendar.

Jane Featherstone, Head of Fundraising at The Sick Children’s Trust says “This is such a unique and fun fundraising idea and we are so grateful to Callista, Laura, Rebecca and Katy for the effort they have put into this challenge. We can support up to 3,500 families a year in our ‘Home from Home’ accommodation and the money the girls are raising will help us to do this so we can’t thank them enough for their support.”

If you would like to purchase a ticket for Callista’s Family Fun evening at the Newport Centre on 21st June please contact Chrisy by emailing chrisy.dowling1@sky.com or visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/365-day-birthday-challenge/


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