Old school chums step up to help Jenna

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2013
Inglewood friends fundraise for friend
DOMINIKA ZIELINSKA/Fairfax NZ

DOING THEIR BIT: High school friends, front from left, Tara Curtis, Kerry Nancarrow, Min McKay, Gemma Gibson and Jenna Moratti; back from left, Jess Burkhart, Rebecca Moratti, Lisa Ponting and Sam Burkhart, have raised $26,000 for Jenna Drought.

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Eight Inglewood women have banded together to raise more than $26,000 for their young friend who has a rare auto-immune disease.

Jenna Drought, 25, was diagnosed with tumefactive multiple sclerosis, and has been in a Melbourne hospital since August 31.

The group of eight former Inglewood High School students, who had been fundraising since Ms Drought fell ill, were delighted with the $26,705.58 raised.

"It's fair to say we're pretty stoked," said Jess Burkhart, one of the group which had organised a black-tie cabaret, an auction and had set up a bank account for donations.

One of the women's sisters, Tracey Zimmerman, had won best in show with her cow at the Egmont A&P Show and donated the $1000 cash prize.

There had also been donations from local businesses and individuals who had heard about her illness. "And we can still do more," Miss Burkhart said.

The women presented a cheque to Ms Drought's mother, Kerry Nancarrow, last night.

Mrs Nancarrow had no idea when she spoke to the Taranaki Daily News of the amount of money the friends had raised.

She was was delighted to have her daughter returning home to Inglewood on December 13.

She said Tysabri, the only drug to which her daughter had responded, was not funded in New Zealand and cost about $3000 per monthly dose.

The Stratford Primary School teacher said Melbourne doctors had applied for special funding so she could get the drug in New Zealand.

"If she can't get the funding we will have to look at other options."

The money raised by her friends should greatly help Ms Drought get the treatment she needed.

When visiting her daughter, who was living in Melbourne, in August, Mrs Nancarrow noticed she had stroke-like symptoms and she was rushed to hospital where the disease was eventually diagnosed.

It had caused tumour-like lesions to form on her brain that had seriously impaired her memory and motor functions.

Mrs Nancarrow said her daughter still needed a walker or wheelchair to get around.

"She has made progress, but she needs 24/7 support.

"Her vocab is improving and she is using more phrases."

Upon her return to New Zealand, she will receive physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

The disease was rare, Mrs Nancarrow said.

"I don't know how long it will take her to recover.

"It's the unknown that's the hardest."

Donations can be made through the Get Well Jenna Drought Fundraising Page on Facebook.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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