THE record-breaking Emma Hoolin Appeal is being wound up.
Family of the Whitley youngster made the official announcement this week while expressing their heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to the mammoth charity drive.
Little Emma, who celebrated her fifth birthday last weekend, was diagnosed with a particularly savage cancer called a high-risk neuroblastoma last year and her best chance of avoiding a relapse, after all conventional medicines had battered it into temporary submission, was pioneering immunotherapy in America.
The huge challenge was to raise £211,000 in 100 days to pay for Emma’s treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It was a daunting task and yet the target was hit with weeks to spare and has now exceeded £380,000.
After the initial goal was passed, fund organisers encouraged folk to keep money-spinning ventures going in case there were costly complications from treatment. These, happily, did not emerge but the reserve money is still there should Emma still need further therapy.
But the Hoolins have decided that a line has to be drawn under the fund-raising.
While anyone who has already organised a forthcoming event in aid of the Emma Appeal is still welcome to give its proceeds to her fund, from then on in they are encouraged instead to make donations to the Neuroblastoma Alliance which has supported Emma and countless other children.
Since returning from the US, Emma has been well enough to start school at Woodfield Primary – seven months later than she was meant to.
Only time will tell whether the therapy has been successful, with doctors saying that the longer she goes without relapsing, the better her long-term chances. A year after treatment is considered a particularly significant landmark for being cancer-free.
In her message to those who have helped her daughter, Jill Hoolin also paid tribute to the remarkable courage shown by her brave little girl.
She said: “Thanks to the truly amazing support we have received from the people of Wigan and beyond, Emma received the treatment she so desperately needed at the time she needed it.
“We are so happy to be home and that Emma is strong enough to start school; she has been so excited and received a wonderful welcome from teachers and classmates at the school.
“We are hoping that Emma remains cancer free and will finally be able to resume a normal life.
“Throughout her illness, Emma never lost her smile – but is now looking forward to just being a five-year-old and we want to do all the everyday things a family does – shopping, trips to the park, even homework!
“None of this would have been possible without the magnificent support of everyone who raised funds for Emma. From the bottom of our hearts – thank you for giving our little girl the very best chance of life.”
The Neuroblastoma Alliance UK is currently supporting another 17 children with Neuroblastoma in the UK.
To find out more, or donate visit www.childrenscancer.org.uk.