‘Christmas angel’ leaves mother in tears
ONE kind gesture built a bridge between isolation and the community for Rockhampton mum Sheryl Wall and her children when a stranger approached them at Stockland Rockhampton.
Ms Wall's second child Ashley has a premature ageing condition called Cockayne Syndrome - she's 11 but this could be her last Christmas.
"The average age for people to live with this condition is 12 but based on Ashley's degeneration doctors said she might only live to 11," Ms Wall said.
Ashley, who hasn't grown much since she was two and cannot walk, was in her pram in Kmart on Wednesday when a stranger approached the family and asked if she could talk to Ashley.
"She just sort of crouched down as my daughter reached out for a cuddle and she asked if that was okay and I said 'absolutely'," she said.
The stranger then spoke to Ms Wall about Ashley's siblings before leaving to go to the checkout - within moments she returned and passed Ashley a Christmas card.
"She said 'please accept this you are all amazing, merry Christmas'," Ms Wall said.
The moment was a Christmas miracle for Ms Wall as she opened the card to find $100 worth of fuel vouchers. But before she could thank the woman, she had left.
"I'm still in a bit of shock," she said.
Ms Wall is now looking for the "Christmas angel".
"I was hoping to find her to thank her and maybe ask her out for a coffee," she said.
While she was appreciative of the gift, being approached by the woman was more than Ms Wall expected.
She said having a child with a disability was an isolating experience.
"Ashley can have major meltdowns and people look at me like I'm a terrible mother," she said.
"I get the people who are whispering or people taking a wide berth.
"Even at family events and you see other families mingling and we don't get approached it's like 'is it because we are different from the rest'?"
Ashley is one of seven people in Australia diagnosed with the syndrome.
The condition is so rare, Ashley's parents had to send her DNA to Holland to get a diagnosis after Australian doctors couldn't work out her disability.
Since she was diagnosed at age four, her parents have tried to "cram in a lifetime of experience in a short time".
"It's even hard to make friends. When you tell someone you have a child with a disability people tend to back-track like you're going to be extra needy," she said.
Ms Wall's one Christmas wish is to find the kind stranger to thank her during what could be her little girl's last holiday season.