Woodford Green family of Kaleigh Lau mark anniversary of eight-year-old's death by unveiling butterfly sculpture
PUBLISHED: 12:38 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:05 18 June 2019
The family of an eight-year-old Woodford Green girl who bravely battled an incurable brain tumour for more than two years, have unveiled a wooden butterfly sculpture at her school to mark one year since her death.
Kaleigh Lau was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) in April 2016. In 2017, she started travelling to Mexico every month to try to find a way of halting the tumour through a pioneering treatment.
Her last treatment was postponed after she fell into a coma. She died six weeks later, on June 12, 2018, in the company of her dad Scott, mum Yang, brother Carson and her grandmother.
Following her death, friends across the globe sent messages of support to Scott and Yang.
A fundraising page for Kaleigh's treatment in Mexico raised more than £250,000 and her family have continued to raise money with the Bradley Lowery Foundation to support families going through the same struggle that they faced. To commemorate the first year since Kaleigh's death, her parents commissioned Luke Chapman from Norfolk to create a wooden butterfly installation at her school, Ray Lodge Primary.
Scott said: "Luke did a fabulous job. The sculpture was made from one single piece of redwood - it captured the wood's natural colours and the beauty of a butterfly fluttering freely in the air.
"The words on the plaque from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh read, 'You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think'.
"We hope these words help to further inspire the children of the school."
Family and friends of Kaleigh will continue to mark her birthday each year by going bowling and spending time together, Scott said. There will also be an annual picnic to celebrate Kaleigh's life - this year, more than 100 friends and family joined.
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Staff and students at Ray Lodge Primary School marked her birthday by painting colourful rocks, planting a "butterly" tree and performing a Little Mix song.
"It's only been one year, so we have been keeping a low profile," Scott said. "But we have been helping families from around the world, giving them what I would describe as high level guidance. I can point them to Facebook pages or give them information. I try to give them as much guidance as I can.
"It does offer some comfort and peace. I am doing my bit to help others because they did so much for us. We were one of the luckier families because of the support we had."
All the funds that were initially raised for Kaleigh's fight were spent on her treatment in Mexico, but a second fundraising page has since been set up by the Bradley Lowery Foundation to help fund research and treatments for DIPG.
The fundraising page has raised more than £9,500 of a £500,000 target.
Family and friends of Kaleigh continue to also raise awareness and funds in her memory through cake sales, auctions and charity runs.
A taxi driver friend of Scott's even offered to raise awareness of Kaleigh's story by advertising on his black cab. "I was blown away," Scott said. "He could have made so much money from advertising but he chose to help us. I never imagined that would happen."
Scott has signed up to run the London Marathon next year in memory of Kaleigh and will be running the Bishop's Stortford 10-mile run in September to raise awareness.
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, who mentioned Kaleigh's case in Parliament during a debate on securing better treatments for cancer last year, continues to support the family and help raise awareness of DIPG.
He said: "This is a painful time for Kaleigh's family and all those who knew her, but this is also an opportunity to celebrate her life and honour her legacy.
"Thanks to Team Kaleigh, rare childhood brain tumours like DIPG are now higher up the political agenda than they were before and we are all determined to continue the campaign until a cure is found."