COURAGEOUS couple Steve and Maya McCormack – who set up a charity to help seriously ill children – paid tribute to their little girl Laila Milly on the first anniversary of her death.
The Ackworth couple launched the Laila Milly Foundation – named after their daughter who died a day before her first birthday last March after suffering from the rare genetic condition Aicardi Syndrome – and set about making plans to open a specialist nursery for children with serious and complex illnesses.
Maya, of Hayfield Way, said: “This has been a hard year, Laila was a brave and wonderful little girl and she coped with so much that it has made us all the more determined to complete what we set out to do.
“When Laila died and news of what we were trying to do was in the Express the public response was phenomenal, people wrote us letters, donated money and offered to help us in anyway they could.
“With the anniversary of Laila’s death this year it has really made us think about what we’ve been doing, the charity work is a constant reminder of Laila and it’s what drives us forward.
“If there is ever a challenge which feels like it is too hard, we always think of Laila and how brave she was dealing with her condition, and it gives us the strength to carry on.”
The couple, with the help of generous Five Towns’ residents, have now raised more than £73,000 for the charity, smashing their original £60,000 target in November.
Residents have taken part in skydives, marathons and boxathons to raise the cash, while others brewed up pints and bucket-collected in shopping centres.
The Express started the Laila Milly’s Wish campaign last January to back the charity and challenge residents to raise cash.
Maya added: “We are so grateful for the support of the Express because it was vital when we started the charity to let as many people as possible know what we were doing.
“We would like to thank everyone who has helped us over this difficult year and hope that we will have a specialist nursery up and running in the next six months.”
The nursery – which will have a sensory room, special disability lift and parents’ room – is now nearing completion after builders, plumbers and plasterers volunteered their services to complete the project.