Three-year-old Holly Bright from Edgemead is one step away from being able to communicate through an electronic eye-gazing device all because her family, friends, and community have stepped in to help.
Holly was born with Rett syndrome, a rare genetic neurological and developmental disorder that affects the way the brain develops, causing a progressive loss of motor skills and speech, as well as regular seizures and breathing problems.
Holly’s parents, Tammy and Nick, desperately had to think of a way to help their youngest daughter, whose muscles and brain connection are compromised because of the condition.
It is not always easy to tell when Holly is sad, hungry or in pain, as she is unable to talk, but her parents have taught themselves to attend to her needs as she uses a Velcro-covered board with pictures she points to, which helps them understand. But sometimes Holly’s involuntary movements can make this difficult, and she can get a little frustrated.
It has always been the family’s dream to hear their daughter communicate with them, and the electronic PCEye device that uses eye-gazing technology, will help them do just that.
Eye-gaze technology, through a PCEye device, reads where the eyes focus, and, with a little teaching to use the device, it will help Holly have her say.
On Monday July 12, Ms Bright called her sister, Kim Jones, from Table View, to help come up with an idea to raise money for the R26 000 device.
They decided that if they were to ask people to donate R67 for Mandela Day, celebrated on Sunday, July 18, it could pay off at least one credit-card instalment.
But Ms Jones decided to start a BackaBuddy campaign.
Ms Jones said she nearly “fell flat on her back,” when she saw people from her community, friends, and family donating to Holly’s campaign just hours after it went up on Tuesday July 13.
To date, R34 000 has been raised .
A laptop, as well as the brackets to brace the device on Holly’s wheelchair have also been donated.
Ms Jones said that once the device had been bought and connected, Holly would be sent for speech therapy and training to use it
Her outstanding medical expenses – which the family’s medical aid could not cover – will be covered with the rest of the money.
“Holly having this device will mean the world to our family, she is such a beautiful and bright girl,” said Ms Jones.
“It is the most beautiful thing to see when Holly cracks a smile or charms us with those big bright eyes, now imagine if she could say mommy,” she said.
“The family does not know how to thank these donors; we cannot believe that people are so generous. We would like to thank everybody who has come on board. We are forever grateful,” she said.
Ms Jones encouraged people to donate, to help pay for Holly’s speech therapy, which she said was not covered by their medical aid.
Visit backabuddy.co.za if you would like to help Holly.