Hope in sight for Antoni

2017-08-01 06:00
Antoni van ReenenPHOTO: SUPPLIED

Antoni van ReenenPHOTO: SUPPLIED

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Injured at birth, seven-year-old Antoni van Reenen from Brackenfell has not let the challenges in his life wipe the smile off his young face.

Antoni was left with brain damage, cerebral palsy and vocal cord paralysis due to oxygen depletion during birth.

His mother, Marili, says their lives have changed and as a family they have learned to appreciate life’s smallest blessings.

“We struggle to keep our heads above water and give Antoni all the things he needs. He has taught us so much about life, and we as a family have learned to appreciate the little things in life.”

Marli says that it has not been easy for the family as not many people understand what it is like to have a special needs child, or how tired you are and how much of a struggle it can be.

“Even after seven years, the stares we get when we go out still hurt so much.”

But she believes all of that will take a turn for the better after little Antoni’s imminent stem cell treatment in Mumbai.

He and Marili will be flying to India on Thursday 10 August, where Antoni will undergo a seven-day treatment at NeuroGen.

The trip costs have been covered, but the family still needs assistance with the treatment and intense therapy Antoni will undergo when he returns home.

Marili says all of this would not have been possible if it were not for Steve Roberts and the Masonic Lodge’s (Lodge Claremont) members.

“Steve moved mountains to help my son, Antoni. With his help and Club Travel who are sponsoring our flights, Antoni will undergo the treatment he needs,” she says.

Roberts explained to People’s Post how he first became involved: “Mauritz (Antoni’s father) and I, are in the same Masonic Lodge (Lodge Claremont), and part of the Scottish constitution. A few months ago he came and discussed with us the problems Antoni has faced since birth.

“He then showed us the groundbreaking treatment available in Mumbai that could help Antoni. As a group, we decided to try and raise money to assist with the treatment costs, which are about R150 000.”

Roberts says they had a fundraiser in May where they managed to raise R24 000 and held a breakfast which raised approximately R9000.

“I realised that it would take many fundraising efforts if we wanted to assist, and as the prognosis for the treatment indicates that the younger the child is when they receive the treatment, the better the chance of success is, I decided to approach our lodge to see if we could donate the full R150 000 so he could get the treatment.

“I outlined the proposal to the committee and it was decided, unanimously, to donate the full amount out of our charity fund.”

The additional money that has already been raised for Antoni will be used to cover the cost of medication that will have to be purchased in India, upon his return to South Africa.

Marili says people who can help, can pay the therapists directly.

“We would be so very grateful for help with Antoni’s occupational and speech therapy when we get back. Or if there is anyone who will take him for swimming and horse riding, that would be amazing.”

Roberts and the Lodge have decided that they will continue to raise additional funds to help not only Antoni but Marili, Mauritz and their daughter, Lea.

“As you can imagine, the financial burden on this young family is incredible and any assistance, that we as a Lodge or anybody else can give will, I’m sure, be gratefully received by them,” says Roberts.

For more information or to make any contribution visit Antoni’s website on www.antonismile.co.za or his Facebook page Fondsinsameling vir Klein Antoni van Reenen.

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