Mia Mia's online angel

An American foundation has put a stranded Mia Mia girl and her family back on the road.Five-year-old Tara O’Connell has Dravet syndrome, a form of epilespsy that causes her to have up to 80 seizures a day, with some rendering her unconscious.When the family car, fitted with a wheelchair lift, broke down last month she was left virtually housebound, prompting her mother Cheri to call for public assistance.US-based Dravet Foundation learned about Tara’s plight through a Google alert linking them to a Bendigo Advertiser story on the family.The Dravet Foundation donated $1500 to the O’Connell family through an appeal run by the I Give A Buck! Foundation, which supports the families of seriously ill children.Mrs O’Connell said that without the support of the foundation and donations from the community, the family would have taken several months to raise the money required to repair the car.She said Tara would have missed out on access to vital services during that time.Mrs O’Connell said the family raised $2002 through the foundation, with an ongoing appeal generating a further $400.“We didn’t even know about them [Dravet Foundation], but they heard about us,” she said.“They had a Google alert on the word dravet and the Bendigo Advertiser article came up on that.”Mrs O’Connell said donations from the local community, family and friends had allowed the family to have the car repaired early.She said money saved on repairs went to help Tara with other aspects of her condition.“We’d been saving like crazy, so the money we saved for the car we used to buy a cooling vest for Tara,” Mrs O’Connell said.“In summer she has a lot of seizures because of the heat, so that will stop those, and we’re also in the process of buying a new wheelchair harness.” The I Give A Buck! Foundation has set up an ongoing appeal for Tara.Foundation relationship manager Liat Harrower said all public donations went towards buying a specific piece of equipment for a specific child.“Our foundation asks for only $1 – a buck – from as many people as possible to achieve this, believing a little from many can change a child’s life,” she said.Tara’s appeal can be found online at www.igiveabuck.org.au

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