BRAVE Tegan Rendell was treated like a princess on her “holiday of a lifetime”, despite suffering debilitating illness.
The 10-year-old from Newent has recently returned from Florida where she was overwhelmed by Disneyworld and the standard of American cheerleading, a sport she loves.
But the experience, which provided her a moment of respite from an incurable tumour and a condition which attacks her immune system, would not have been possible had it not been for the “phenomenal support” of her fellow cheerleaders.
Her mum, Clare Constable, 44, says she cannot put into words how grateful she is to Gloucester Cheer and Dance Academy which led a £5,000 fundraising drive to cover medical insurance so her daughter could live her American dream.
Clare said: “We have been gobsmacked and it only took ten weeks to raise that sum.
“It was the trip of a lifetime and she absolutely loved it.
“It is so hard being in a situation to thank the individuals who have given money as there have been so many.”
Tegan has a benign tumour deep in her brain, suffers severe epilepsy, diabetes and has had a reoccurrence of glutamic acid decarboxylase mediated encephalopathy - a brain infection that attacks the body’s immune system.
She spent part of her trip at the Give Kids the World Village, a 70-acre story-book resort near the state’s most popular attractions where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to cost-free fantasy holidays.
Not only did she receive personal visits from Micky Mouse and the village’s Mayor Clayton, a giant rabbit, but she was also treated to trips to Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. Much of the trip was organised by the Kids with Cancer Society.
Clare said her daughter was also given VIP tickets for the cheerleading world championships which was held at the Disney report.
She added: “The level of cheerleading was amazing.
“But people in and around Florida know about the village and it is like their hidden gem. They are so proud it is there and what they do for people is phenomenal.
“Tegan even had a Jacuzzi in her bathroom and whatever the children want, they oblige.”
Tegan spent around a fortnight in the states with her mum, stepdad Robin Anderson, 49, and a number of fellow members of the Gloucester Cheer and Dance Academy.
A huge parcel of presents awaited Tegan’s arrival to the fairytale village and the ‘gift fairy’ regularly returned with surprises throughout the week.
“It was the happiest place I have ever been to,” said Clare.
But Tegan’s treatment continues and despite receiving intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment every four weeks, she still cheerleads as much as possible.
Clare added: “The tumour can’t be treated and her body is trying to destroy her brain and we are trying to treat that at the moment.
“The IVIG makes her feel poorly for a few days after having it but it helps to ease some of her headaches, so you can see a difference between when she has had it and when she has not.”