Caddington dad Martin Rackley is asking everyone to ‘Click for Keech’ for the hospice to become Luton Airport’s Charity of the Year so it can support more children like his daughter.
Three-year-old Ruby was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour not long after her first birthday.
Martin, 38, said Keech had been with them all the way, from the very beginning of the most traumatic time any parent could experience .
“Without Keech, we’d be in a very different place – a lonely place,” he admitted. “We’d be sitting at home with a very sick child thinking ‘Is this it?’
“That’s why I want other families to be able to have the life-changing support we’ve had and why I’m doing everything I can to make sure they win.
“I’ve been out in force with posters, spreading the word via social media and asking celebrities and everyone I meet to vote for Keech.” *
Former construction worker Martin – who gave up his job to become Ruby’s full time carer – recalled how vulnerable she became 18 months into her treatment.
Her immune system was so compromised by the chemotherapy, operations and feeding tubes that he and his wife Emma, who have two other children, were reluctant to take her out.
He said: “We couldn’t take her to playgrounds because if another child had a cold, Ruby could have ended up with pneumonia or in hospital for weeks with an infection.
“We couldn’t take her to a restaurant because people would stare at her feeding equipment, or she might be sick.”
He added poignantly: “We couldn’t be the normal parents we wanted to be.”
Everyone who came in contact with Ruby at the hospital would sanitise their hands first, and the tiny tot started to copy them, but the habit soon developed into a serious phobia.
Martin explained: “She couldn’t stand even the slightest touch from anyone – including me. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
“But Keech helped her overcome it. They came to the house every week bringing normal toys and others like cooked pasta, Playdoh, jelly and sand.
“Week by week, our daughter slowly improved. She learned to play and get messy again. You wouldn’t believe she’s the same child. I feel like I’ve got my daughter back. I know just what a difference Keech has made to Ruby’s life and ours.
“To have them, our own local charity, be our own local airport’s Charity of the Year, would be amazing.”
He added: “I appreciate people have really busy lives but if everyone spared just five seconds to click for Keech, I know firsthand just how much it would benefit so many families like ours.”
* Vote before November 30 for Keech to be Luton Airport’s Charity of the Year at www.votekeech.com