THE parents of a toddler born with a rare form of birthmark which covers much of his body say they have been overwhelmed by the kindness of fundraisers which has already seen them raise over £6,000.
Twenty-two-month-old Ethan Wheller, from Huntington, was born with congenital melanocytic naevi (CMN) – a kind of birthmark – which covers 35 per cent of his body.
His parents Tom Wheller and Abbi Thompson, both 25, launched a fundraising effort to make people aware of CMN and to help support the charity Caring Matters Now, which is conducting research into the condition.
With the help of donations and a charity golf day at Forest Park Golf Club in Stockton on the Forest they have raised thousands for the charity so far.
Mr Wheller, who works as a trade supervisor, said: "We want to raise awareness for my son and other people with CMN. In three months we have got a lot further than we thought, it's great.
"Thank you to all the participants who helped us raise £4630 for the charity golf day. Overall we have raised £6161. We are overwhelmed by the amount of support everyone has shown."
He thanked the golf club and the many businesses to sponsor holes as well as the prize donated by Rockliffe Hall.
There are fears the mark, which covers Ethan’s face, chest, neck, back, arm and ear could cause complications as it does appear to be getting larger and could potentially cause neurological problems or become cancerous in the future.
Researchers working on behalf of the charity have found the gene which causes the condition and are working on medication which could stop further spread of it after babies are born. They are also looking into ways of lightening the mark, which Ethan’s parents hope could help him in the future.
First place at the golfing competition - which is due to become a yearly event - went to Kev Drinkeld and Richard Rogerson. Food was supplied by Tony Neary's butchers and Pizza Hut.
A further event will be held in June when Mr Wheller and friends will walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
To donate visit http://www.justgiving.com/tom-wheller or text CMN 50 £3 TO 70070.