Megan and Andrew Stephens with their daughter Gabby, 7, who has received a grant from the Mike Pero Foundation to attend a conference for those who suffer from a rare disease called dyskeratosis congenita. Photo: Brittany Spencer.

A helping hand for young Gabby

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For one local family, a $2000 donation has made a priceless difference.

Three years ago, Gabby Stephens, 7, was diagnosed with dyskeratosis congenita, a rare degenerative genetic disorder that may see her not live past a teenager.

She is the only remaining person with the disease in New Zealand.

A small respite was attending the Dyskeratosis Congenita Family Education Summit in the United States. The family attended last year but the cost of getting there is prohibitive.

During the camp, connections are made with families dealing with the same disease.

“The camp is incredible,” said Gabby’s mum Megan. “Within 24 hours [my husband] Andrew said, ‘we’re going to have to rethink out finances, so we can come back’.”

Megan said they couldn’t imagine not going. On Friday they received some good news – the Mike Pero Foundation would help get Gabby and her family to next year’s summit in Maine.

Mike Pero franchise owner Craig Hamilton says, as soon as he heard about Gabby’s story he knew they had to do something. “They applied through our foundation online, so we had a look at their story and instantly thought they were deserving of the money.”

Megan said seeing other children at the camp was hard, as she could see what was ahead for Gabby.

“But the support we get from the specialists and the other families is priceless.”

Megan says the money from the Mike Pero Foundation was a “huge relief”. “We’ve already got some fundraisers planned and we’ll have to put some on our mortgage because there’s no way we can afford it.”

If you or your business wish to donate and help get the Stephens family to America, contact the family through the Friends of Gabrielle Facebook page.