Support for trip humbles family

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INVERCARGILL boy Ollie Walton’s dream is coming true thanks to support from family, friends and complete strangers.
‘‘More people have supported us than we know. It has been really humbling,’’ Ollie’s mother Andi said.
‘‘We feel so grateful. We can’t say thanks enough.’’
Ollie has Cohen Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterised by conditions including diminished muscle tone, deteriorating vision and intellectual disability. As a result, Ollie is almost blind in his right eye and is rapidly losing sight in his other eye.
Next month he, his brother Albion (2) and his parents Andi and Toby are going to Australia’s Sea World for 10 days so Ollie can see his favourite sea creatures before he completely loses his sight.
‘‘[Going to Seaworld is] a dream come true,’’ Ollie said.
He was especially looking forward to seeing colossal squid, he said.
‘‘He is obsessed with them,’’ his mother said.
Medical specialists had told the family Ollie would never walk or talk, but he had proven them wrong on both counts, she said.
‘‘He rises to the challenge. We just expect that he will do it. We don’t place limitations on him.’’
‘‘We are devastated about the vision, but we love him the way he is. We couldn’t ask for a nicer son. Although life is not normal and is different from what we expected, he is hilarious and has us laughing.’’
Mr Walton’s sister Holly Blue instigated the family’s trip to Sea World and organised the fundraising effort.
‘‘Holly wanted to help and give other people the opportunity too.’’
Sea World offered the family free accommodation and a week’s free entry to the theme park and Tony Laker, of Laker House of Travel, arranged other free passes for the family, she said.
However, they had still needed to raise over $6000 to cover flights, travel insurance, and other associated costs, a target which had now been reached thanks to the support and generosity of the community.
Ollie’s school friends at Donovan Primary School and the children at Grasmere Kindergarten held a fundraiser last week, dressing in brightly coloured clothing and raising over $1000.
‘‘It was an awesome [school] assembly — very emotional,’’ Mrs Walton said.
Any funds remaining after the trip would be put into an ‘‘Ollie Experience Fund’’ to purchase specialised equipment and create more experiences and memories for him, she said.
‘‘We just want to give him the best life.’’
Í Leonardo Da Vinci, the Genius in Milan film, fundraiser to help Ollie see Seaworld, Southland Museum & Art Gallery theatre, Gala St, Invercargill, July 16 and 17, 2pm. Tickets $20. To book phone 03 219 9069.
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