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Community rallying to help 10-year-old girl receive spinal surgery

Posted at 10:42 PM, Aug 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-17 22:42:42-04

NAPLES, Fla. — You wouldn't know it to look at London LaRochelle, but the 10-year-old Naples girl is living with constant pain from severe scoliosis.

"Her back hurts every day, and her head hurts a lot," said her mother Allie Johnson. "If we have a very active day like today, tomorrow will be spent in bed."

Johnson said her daughter had brain surgery to correct a condition called Chiari Malformation when she was only 8, but a cyst on her spine caused her scoliosis to worsen.

London is scheduled to get a new surgery - vertebral body, tethering, or VBT - which was just approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week. But the surgery is in San Diego, and Johnson said that costs for the family will be approximately $18,000.

"I kind of went into panic mode trying to figure out how I was going to make this happen for her," Johnson said. "We prayed a lot."

Those prayers are getting answered. A GoFundMe account and other donations had already raised $8,000. Then, the proceeds from a carnival and silent auction at Naples Christian Church brought that number closer to $11,000.

"She's just a sweet girl," said Sarah Jo Estes, director of worship at Naples Christian Church. "I think everyone can imagine that they want a 10-year-old girl to have a life where she can go play."

"It's so overwhelming," Johnson said. "I can't even believe everything that's happening here today."

Almost 100 companies donated gifts for the silent auction. Johnson said that thanks to the community's generosity, London should begin to lead a fuller life with a lot less pain.

"She wants to play volleyball, she wants to dance," Johnson said. "She'll always have things that she'll struggle with, but this surgery is a big step in the right direction."

The surgery is scheduled for September 11. Anyone who wishes to help can donate online here.