Little Chloe Ballantyne is a bubbly seven-year-old who loves Liverpool Football Club.
But behind her smile and cheery chatter she lives with a rare condition known as Septo-optic dysplasia. The seven-year-old was born with an underdeveloped optic nerve that left her almost blind and with hormone deficiencies.
In 2013, her parents Dean and Kayleigh saved enough money to take the primary two pupil at Oaklands School to Thailand for stem cell treatment that improved her eyesight.
Now the couple are fundraising to take their daughter back for a second round of treatment they hope will take her one step closer to a life of independence.
Dean, from Stenhouse, said: “Chloe is a happy girl. She’s very talkative, but it’s a bit of a guessing game. She builds us a picture of what she’s trying to say, but it can be frustrating for her. She’s very clever and creative and loves music. Her favourites are jazz, the blues and heavy metal.”
Chloe cannot walk unaided as her legs are weak, but with regular physiotherapy improvements are being seen.
The family spent a month in Thailand at the Better Being Hospital while Chloe received physical therapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture and stem cell treatment. They have raised £10,000 of the £15,000 they need for a second visit after generous friends and family supported a football marathon event last year. This time Dean is incorporating his love for his daughter with his love for the fire and rescue service as he raises funds for both with a charity hike up Arthur’s Seat in full firefighting gear.
Dean volunteers for the International Fire and Rescue Association (IFRA), which trains firefighters from around the world.
He will be scaling the hill alongside nine other volunteers for IFRA and Chloe’s Chance Foundation.
Dean said: “We’re going up and down five times, which is seven miles, There’s a 33 per cent incline adding to the challenge too. It’s exhausting, but it’s worth it.”
With a new baby in the family after little brother Max was born ten weeks ago, Dean and Kayleigh have seen Chloe come on in leaps and bounds.
Due to her acute hearing she could never bear the sound of babies crying before, but now she tries to soothe her baby sibling and takes on the important job of burping him after he is fed.
They are looking forward to Max saying his first words.
Chloe still wakes every night around 2am because she doesn’t have the hormone that keeps her asleep, but instead of being annoyed, Dean and Kayleigh, who are her full-time carers, love the sound.
Dean said: “We were told when she was born that she might not ever speak or walk or eat properly, so we love to hear the blethering and every time she sings I feel so proud. It’s like a feeling of euphoria.”
Dean just wants to keep his daughter smiling.
He said: “We want to give her the best quality of life she can have. We’re optimistic”
To donate, visit the Go Fund Me page here.