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The NF Army needs you

Gary’s little girl Jessica needs your support to help change the future of Neurofibromatosis

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Greater Manchester performance coach Gary Woods and his partner Krista organised a family fun day in Preston, which raised more than £2,500 towards research into the genetic condition known as Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1).

NF1 causes tumours to grow along your nerves. The tumours are usually non-cancerous (benign), but may cause a range of symptoms, which can develop gradually over many years. The severity of the condition can vary considerably from person to person.

‘Our beautiful seven-year-old daughter, Jessica, has Neurofibromatosis type 1,’ said Gary. ‘At six-years-old, Jessica had already gone through 10 MRI scans, the same number of general anaesthetics, and several surgical procedures, including one for a gastrostomy tube, which allows us to feed her.

‘Jessica’s joints are hyper mobile and she has low muscle tone and daily nerve pain throughout her body. Her ability to concentrate for long periods of time is significantly lower than others and she is easily over-stimulated by new or challenging situations. She also has the most beautiful and caring nature, wonderful smile and determination to keep going despite her challenges.’

Gary’s daughter is soon going to embark upon a new trial drug through Manchester Children’s Hospital, to shrink a tumour which is growing very close to her airways.

‘This will of course present its worries and challenges, but we are also very lucky that research has given her this opportunity,’ said Gary. ‘As parents, we want to fix anything that is broken for our children, and this is something that is out of our hands. Jessica uses more energy than most people to simply get through the day.

‘My mission is that if I too can use the extra energy and determination Jessica uses, then we can contribute to changing the future of NF1. Just a few years ago this potentially life-changing drug wasn’t available to our little girl, so with more funding, who knows what might be around the corner.’

Gary’s family and friends formed the ‘NF Army’ with the aim to raise £100,000 towards funding further research into Jessica’s condition at Manchester Children’s Hospital. Their family fun day was just one of a series of fundraising events they hope will contribute towards achieving their £100,000 target.

Gary said: ‘It was an amazing day. We had some lovely sunny weather and we were really happy with the number of people who attended, including our local mayor.

‘Our aim for the day was to raise £1,000, but we smashed that target and raised over £2,500! We had a “600 Squares” game, where you could buy a square with a number in for £3. On the day, we drew three numbers out of the 600 squares, with the first prize being £500 – this was won by area leadership team support manager, Janet Sheard.’

If you would like to help the NF Army reach their £100,000 target, you can visit their Just Giving page here.