Excitement is building for the biggest-ever festive fundraiser from Acorns Children’s Hospice. As the countdown to Acorns Santa Run continues, mum Emma Barton reveals why signing up to the seasonal spectacular will make a real difference to families like hers…
When Emma Barton found out she was pregnant with her first child, the new mum dreamed of meeting her daughter for the very first time.
But when Esme was born, doctors whisked away her away and Emma’s precious first skin-to-skin moment was ‘ruined’.
It wasn’t until her newborn was handed back to her with a feeding tube, that Emma realised there was a problem.
She had been told Esme wasn’t hitting the key markers during her pregnancy, but Emma never ever expected what was to come.
“It wasn’t really explained to me. They could clearly see there were facial differences and she was born with hypothermia and hypoglycaemia. She was taken away straightaway. It was all downplayed, but it was critical and there was me thinking our amazing skin-to-skin first moment was being spoilt.”
The rollercoaster continued when doctors told Emma that Esme may have a chromosome condition and after an anxious six-week wait the diagnosis was confirmed as partial Trisomy 14. The tests also revealed that Esme has Cri-du-chat syndrome as well as metabolic issues.
“The first year was especially tough as she was ill a lot. She had a lot of infections. Esme is my first child, so I had nothing to compare it to. Esme is profoundly disabled, and it affects all aspects of her life. She is dependent on care givers for absolutely everything.”
Emma hadn’t been aware of Acorns before Esme’s referral. It took some time before she was ready to explore what Acorns could offer families like hers.
“Acorns was initially mentioned to us when Esme was a baby. But at that time it just felt really fatalistic. Partly because it was accepting that her life would be over before it’d really started. I certainly wasn’t ready for that.”
The Erdington mum finally considered Acorns for support with Esme’s complex metabolic issues. And although she still had reservations and thought Esme, now 14, wouldn’t meet the criteria, she quickly realised the hospice helps lots of children with complex needs.
“As soon as I walked into the hospice it was obvious that Acorns is about so much more than end of life care. It’s about living, where all your preformed ideas are totally blown away. I didn’t take any convincing. I just had to get to that stage of needing some support.
“I’m grateful Esme has Acorns and I’m really impressed with the way Acorns has let her grow. Acorns is a place where Esme can come and have happy times and we can have valuable respite. It’s vital for that. Acorns is a real lifeline for the families it supports.”
Emma beautifully sums up exactly what Acorns means to children and families who use its services and why the charity needs support from the local community to continue providing its vital care.
Next month Acorns is hosting its famous festive fundraiser which is one of the charity’s key events. Coming to three locations across the West Midlands for the very first time, it’s Acorns biggest series of Santa Runs yet.
The events, which are taking place at Birmingham’s Millennium Point on Saturday 7 December and Walsall Arboretum and The Valley Evesham on Sunday 8 December, are being held to help Acorns and fund its care and support for families, like Emma’s.
Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for children and young people with life limiting and life threatening conditions. In the past year Acorns has cared for over 780 children and more than 1,220 families, including those who are bereaved.
Tickets for Acorns Santa Run are priced £15 for adults, £10 for children and £5 for dogs. Under 2s are free.
Tickets cover the cost of the event, but every penny raised in sponsorship goes directly to supporting local children and families. Tickets include free entry to a host of visitor attractions, including National Sea Life Birmingham and Thinktank.
To sign up for Acorns Santa Run, visit: www.acorns.org.uk/santa-fun-run.
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