Pulling together for little Emma

Emma Hoolin, four, from Whitley, who has cancer, with her mum Jill
Emma Hoolin, four, from Whitley, who has cancer, with her mum Jill

A QUEST to get a little Wigan girl to America for life-saving cancer treatment has been met with a “magnificent public response,” her family said today.

The plight of four-year-old Emma Hoolin, revealed in last week’s Wigan Observer, has touched the hearts of thousands with numerous ambitious money-spinning events’ being organised at very short notice.

The youngster, from Oak Hill Close, Whitley, faces a race against the clock to get to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia by early November for a pioneering treatment that gives her the best chance of long-term survival.

But in order for her to get there and undergo the antibody therapy she needs, the Hoolins have to find a massive £211,000 within weeks.

Emma was diagnosed with a high-risk neuroblastoma (tumour) in her stomach early this year and since then has been in and out of hospital, at times gravely ill, as she underwent chemotherapy, surgery and stem cell replacement while suffering from several serious side-effects.

A gruelling course of radiotherapy comes next but it is in the nature of such growths that despite of all these treatments’ battering it into submission, there are strong chances that it could return. Further conventional treatment would then be futile.

But the antibody therapy tackles the microscopic disease that often triggers relapses. The problem is that it needs to take place around 100 days after stem cell treatment, which gives the Hoolins little time to get such colossal funds together.

However, the charity ventures have got off to a highly impressive start and look set to bring in many thousands of pounds within the next fortnight alone.

Jill said: “I have never known anything like it. So many people - many of whom we have never met - have offered to raise money. It has been a magnificent response.

“Some of the ideas have been fantastic. So many of the schools have pulled together: including Woodfield Primary where Emma should have been starting this term, and local post offices who have agreed to have posters up and have donation tubs inside.

“We are very very grateful and realise it is a massive ask at such short notice.”

Celebrity chef Tom Bridge is one of those moved to get involved. He has donated a signed copy of his latest book along with a cheque and has also sent details of Emma’s story to every one of his e-mail contacts and to the website www.celebritychefs.co to inspire even more interest.

Tom said: “No-one can have failed to have been moved by this lovely little girl’s plight and I hope everyone will do their bit for her.”

Donations to Emma’s appeal can be made and further details about events can be found at www.emmahoolin.co.uk or www.justgiving.com/hope4emma.

But here is just a sample of the ideas and events that are already helping to stoke up the fund:

On Monday Kath Rogers took part in a one-mile sponsored swim in aid of Emma at DW Fitness, Leigh;

Througout October the Paul Whittle and Son garage on Manchester Road, Ince, will donate £5 to Emma for every car MOT it carries. It is also doing a charity car wash over the weekend of October 1 and 2 which will see drivers and their families entertained by a singer and with a bouncy castle. The garage can be contacted on 01942 247247;

On October 1 Joanne Ollerton and friends are doing a pub crawl rasing funds for Emma;

The same day Year 6 pupils from Woodfield Primary will be doing a bucket collection at Standish Co-Op (formerly Somerfield) along with a charity bag-pack;

Ross Prior, a Woodfield parent and his friends are taking part in a sponsored bike ride;

On Sunday, October 2 Ali and George Taylor are taking part in a 10km run in Southport;

Style Centre Hairdressing Salon in Barnsley Street is holding a fund-raising day on Sunday October 16. it includes wash and style, beauty treatments, three sponsored leg waxes (for men), cakes, raffles, a jewellery, bags and cosmetics bring and buy, face painting and a party bus. Admission is £10 admission;

More events will feature in future editions of the Wigan Observer.