Brave Gabrielle battles on

Alden Williams/Fairfax NZ

A FIGHTER: Gabby Stephens, 4, was diagnosed with Dykeratosis Congenita and Aplastic Anemia, which means her bone marrow has failed and needs to be replaced.

The Stephens family is "blown away" by the support they received for their 4-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, who suffers from a rare life-threatening disease.

The Stoke community rallied around Gabrielle on Friday afternoon for a "wipe-out" water obstacle course that raised more than $7000 to help her family care for her.

"It's absolutely beyond our wildest dreams," said her mother, Megan. "It will take the pressure off. I can take time off work without having to worry about paying bills."

Gabrielle Stephens, right, shows her delight on the water obstacle course organised by the Stoke community as a ...

Gabrielle Stephens, right, shows her delight on the water obstacle course organised by the Stoke community as a fundraiser to help her and her family battle a rare disease.

The family found out Gabrielle had dyskeratosis congenita and aplastic anemia which leaves sufferers vulnerable to disorders that impair bone marrow function and at high risk of developing various cancers. She is only the third recorded case in New Zealand with all coming from Nelson.

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*Little battler Gabby is one in a million

The Stephens family hope a bone marrow transplant from Gabrielle's 7-year-old brother Lachlan will help her. However, it was not clear when that procedure at Auckland's Starship hospital could take place.

However, once Gabrielle was on that path for a transplant there was no going back.

"Right now she lives a fairly normal life but once we get up there life will never be the same again."

Megan said her daughter "had a blast" at the event.

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"She had such a great time; she was totally in her element."

Megan wanted to thank the community and Stoke Kindergarten for rallying around them. The money was raised through sponsorship, cake stalls, barbecues, drinks, face painting, raffles and head shaving.

"The people who did it were just amazing. It was really humbling. I'm totally blown away."

The family has an appointment in Auckland next Tuesday but they are not sure what it is about.

"Hopefully we will get a few answers and a better idea of a time line of what will happen and when."

 - The Nelson Mail

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