Variety the spice of Amy's life

By Ally Manning

You might remember features in Scene earlier this year about Leanne and Colin West’s beautiful daughter, Amy, who in October 2007 was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. Until symptoms of the neurological disorder became evident, Amy was a completely normal, happy little girl who ate and slept well, loved her toys and prized her big sister Sarah.

It seemed, however, that Amy took a curious amount of time to walk and after eighteen months had passed, still no sign in of walking. The couple had been assured that Amy was fine, so thought she would start walking all in her own time. From there though, Amy began having difficulties with things such as drinking from her cup, playing and even eating. These were things that Amy had learnt and was completely capable of doing.

Gradually, her skills continued to deteriorate and Amy could walk only with the help of a small walking frame. With the diagnosis, her symptoms were very likely to get worse and unsure of whether changes in their daughter would be a gradual, rapid or even introduce new changes such as seizures (which are likely with this disorder), Colin and Leanne just had to take it as it came day by day and hope for the best. Then along came a miracle.

To Leanne and Colin’s astonishment, Amy started to walk. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just stood there basically with my mouth open, and then called to Colin; come and see your daughter, she’s walking! We both were completely astounded. We couldn’t believe it,” said an ecstatic Leanne. Now up and walking and seeming all the more happy, Amy and family have had more great news come their way.

Variety is a not for profit charity dedicated to helping New Zealand’s sick, disabled and disadvantaged children – helping them to strive to reach their full potential. Through a range of programmes, financial grants or through the provision of equipment or aids Variety encourages children to live fulfilled and enriched lives. They have done exactly this for Amy, by donating a specially imported ‘Inky Dinky’ Saddle to enable Amy to ride Chelsea, the family’s Welsh show pony, who she absolutely loves. Riding Chelsea is extremely beneficial for Amy’s muscle growth and physical development. Her six year-old sister Sarah has been riding the pony for four years and is a star in Amy’s eyes. Variety, which raises all its revenue through public donations and fundraising events, has given the Amy a chance for growth and to have a bit of fun, and Leanne and Colin are very appreciative!