A generous community steps forward to turn the wheels of hope for Thomas

Generous gesture: Thomas, 9, with his mother Belinda, pictured far left, with Gary Richards (Rotary Engadine), Mark Vandy (Tynan Motors), Elizabeth Beves, Sue Maclean, Jenni Warren (Lioness Club of Sutherland Shire) and Matthew Wormleaton. Picture: John Veage
Generous gesture: Thomas, 9, with his mother Belinda, pictured far left, with Gary Richards (Rotary Engadine), Mark Vandy (Tynan Motors), Elizabeth Beves, Sue Maclean, Jenni Warren (Lioness Club of Sutherland Shire) and Matthew Wormleaton. Picture: John Veage

It has been a year since the Leader published an article about Thomas, who desperately needed a wheelchair accessible vehicle to support his condition, spinal muscular atrophy.

But it has been a much longer wait for the young boy. Now his patience has been rewarded by a generous community.

Several charitable organisations, among individual businesses, have donated enough funds for Thomas, 9.

A total of $45,000 was raised through a fundraising trivia night, community grants and individual donations, for a Kia Carnival.

Thomas has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA type 2), an inherited condition that affects the muscles. It is characterised primarily by progressive weakness that develops in children from about six months of age, and is degenerative disease that is caused by mutations in the SMN1 gene.

Having the condition means Thomas, of Loftus, is unable to walk.

The Rotary Club of Engadine and the Lioness Club of Sutherland Shire combined to fund the new Kia Carnival.

Once the vehicle is modified, Thomas will be able to run his wheelchair through the rear door. It means he can get into the family car independently without needing to be lifted into his seat.

Primary funding sources for the new vehicle were a Lioness Club of Sutherland Shire trivia night, Rotary Dick Smith grant, Lions grant, Rotary Engadine donation, 'Go Fund Me' and the Loftus community donations. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is funding vehicle modification.

His mother Belinda Wormleaton says she is grateful for all the support, which means her son can enjoy more of his favourite activities outdoors.

"The community's support has been amazing and we are so thankful," she said.

"Thomas loves life and does not let his disability stop him. Having a wheelchair accessible vehicle to transport Thomas will significantly change his life. It means we can transport him in his power wheelchair so he can participate in activities that nine year old boys love such as attending sports, outings with friends and family."

She says the team effort of organisations that supported her family has been fantastic.

"A massive thankyou to all the organisations and individuals who generously helped Thomas and our family," she said.

"We would like to thank The Sutherland Shire Lionesses, The Australian Lions Foundation, Engadine Rotary, Dick Smith and the Rotary Benevolent Society for their generosity and time. Also the many individuals and businesses who helped."

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