The Melbourne mother and daughter whose story on SBS’s Struggle Street touched viewers around Australia are “overjoyed” by the generous donations and words of support they’ve received since the documentary aired two weeks ago.
Michelle and her daughter Jessica created a GoFundMe page in May 2016 in an effort to raise money for Jessica’s mounting medical bills. Jessica has a rare disease called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 6 (EDS), to which there is currently no cure. She also lives with autism, a moderate intellectual disability, scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, intestinal failure, according to the crowdfunding page.
"We are overjoyed and you have all touched our hearts with your loving messages and generous donations."
The page had received just $445 in the space of 19 months, until the pair shared their story on Struggle Street and viewers began inundating the site with donations. They’ve now received just over $120,000–double the amount they were hoping to raise to get Jessica to a clinic in Baltimore that specialises in EDS treatment.
The mother and daughter, who have been scraping by on a combined carer’s pension and a disability pension, will now be able to pay for vital equipment for Jess, including a $3000 wheelchair and a wheelchair van and hoist—as well as the costly treatment in the US.
Michelle has written to SBS in response to the outpouring of support she and her daughter have received from viewers who connected with their emotional story and the 3,000 donors who have helped them to access the life-changing treatment in Baltimore.
“I wanted to let you know Jess and I are forever grateful of your kindness, love, support and incredible donations.
“We are overwhelmingly over the moon. We are overjoyed and you have all touched our hearts with your loving messages and generous donations. Now I will be able to take my amazing and beautiful daughter to Baltimore. My thanks is just not enough.
“Without all of you and your kind hearts, Jessica’s dream wouldn’t have come true. It has been a long painful road, and now Jess has the chance to get help from the eds clinic in Baltimore USA. Your heartfelt wishes and loving thoughts, and words have put a smile on my beautiful girl, which is the best sight to see.
"For the amazing people we have met in person, thank you, thank you, thank you. We finally got to hug and thank some most kind people in person. May God bless you all.
"Big hugs and love Michelle xxx"
You can view Michelle and Jess's GoFundMe page here.
All six episodes of Struggle Street series two are available to view on SBS On Demand.
Struggle Street series two is produced by KEO Films with funding support from Screen Australia and Film Victoria.