A St Helens youngster with a rare disorder has collected a cash windfall from shoppers on behalf of the children’s hospital that has cared for him.
Nine-year-old Kenzie Appleton was overjoyed to accept £411 on behalf of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, donated by visitors to Church Square Shopping Centre.
The money came from contributions for the centre’s Christmas Elves gift wrapping service as well as donations to the animated displays around the centre over the festive season.
Church Square was also a drop off point in December for Kenzie’s appeal for toys for youngsters being treated by the hospital over the festive break – the second time he has organised an appeal.
Kenzie, who lives in Sutton, suffers from the hip disorder Perthes Disease and has been treated by experts at Alder Hey for the last four years.
“I was very happy with how the appeal went this year,” said Kenzie. “Staff at Alder Hey deserve our help because they really help you and they all try to make you smile and make you feel better.”
Church Square Shopping Centre manager Steven Brogan decided to donate the cash from the charity events to Alder Hey, after the success of Kenzie’s toy appeal.
He said: “We were happy to help with Kenzie as Alder Hey is such an important feature in our local community and I’m delighted that the appeal went so well.
“A number of our retailers rallied round with a fabulous selection of gifts and goodies, and many shoppers made a point of putting a little something in the collection too.
“In addition, we asked visitors to make a contribution to Alder Hey as part of our wrapping service and in the animated display and have now been able to hand over a further £411.60 from that.”
Kenzie’s kind-hearted appeal led to BBC TV North West naming him as a Christmas Star, handing him his award during a broadcast from the hospital.
He said: “Roger Johnson from North West Tonight came over when we were giving the presents to the hospital and said they were giving me a Christmas Star Award.
“It was such a shock and I felt really special. Some of my friends and teachers from school saw me on the telly too,” he added.
Joining Kenzie at the Church Square Shopping Centre to collect the donation was Cath Harding from Alder Hey Children’s Charity.
She said: “Alder Hey Children’s Charity would like to thank the customers and staff at Church Square Shopping Centre for getting behind our young Ambassador Kenzie and supporting his toy appeal.
“The money raised and the toys received will directly benefit the 275,000 children and young people treated in our brand new hospital, Alder Hey in the Park.”
Kenzie’s Tara Hewitt said: “I can’t put in to words how proud we are of Kenzie and what he has done. I’ll never be able to express how I feel about how well he has coped with everything that he’s gone through and how determined he has been to help others.
“When he was in Alder Hey in 2014 he knew he was due in surgery on December 18 and straight away he said he wanted to do something for all the children that would be in hospital at that time of year, even though he was actually able to come home on Christmas morning.
“He launched the appeal last year and managed to fill a van with toys but he wanted to do it again this year and it has been amazing as we’ve had two vans and two cars full of presents.
“We can’t thank people enough for their support. The kindness and generosity of the people of St Helens has been incredible.”
Kenzie’s second appeal attracted donations of soft toys, jigsaws, books, games, dolls, cars, MP3 players and in Tara’s words, ‘anything anyone could think of giving to a child at Christmas.’
She added: “We just wanted to give something back as Alder Hey have been amazing with us. They have cared for the whole family, not just Kenzie, and always made sure that his little sister Victoria, aged 6, knew what was going on too.
“I wouldn’t want him to be looked after by anyone else.”
Kenzie’s problems began after his family asked doctors about a limp he had developed that didn’t go away. After investigations he was diagnosed with Perthes Disease that makes the femur bone in his leg soft and breakable.
Alder Hey experts monitored his situation and in 2012 Kenzie underwent a complex operation that left him in a hip cast, bed ridden for three months and wheelchair bound afterwards.
Despite intense physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, and the second operation in 2014, Kenzie still has muscle damage and weakness in the affected leg, and can’t take part in active sports.
But for the Sutton Oak Primary pupil the last few months have been crucial as he has now started to get around without the wheelchair and that newfound mobility has transformed his life.
Tara said: “He is doing so well with his progress and he’s so happy to be out of the chair and walking around now after being in it for four years. He still needs appointments and physio but we’re just taking each day as it comes and dealing with one hurdle at a time.”