A rare condition is robbing a Texas fifth-grader of his ability to speak, but an online community of supporters is rallying around him to help him get his voice back.
KEYE TV reported that strangers have helped raise more than $30,000 for Gershon Thomas, of Austin, on GoFundMe in less than 24 hours. His mother, Carla Rolla, set up the crowd-funding page Wednesday to raise $10,000 for an eye gaze communication device, and Austin, Texas-based Chive Charities has helped Rolla raise awareness of the campaign.
A year ago, Thomas collapsed at home and was later diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition leads to a loss of motor skills. While they most commonly affect the brain or spine, brain AVMs are rare and impact less than 1 percent of the population.
AVM has changed Thomas from an exuberant, video-game-loving young boy into someone who is voiceless and reliant on a wheelchair, KeyeTV.com reported.
Since his diagnosis, Thomas has endured a five-month-long coma and seven brain surgeries, the news station reported.
"Seeing him laying still not being able to move that was frightening," Dameon Young, Thomas’ older brother, told KeyeTV.com.
As of Thursday afternoon, Thomas’ GoFundMe page had surpassed $35,000, which was gathered by about 1,140 donations.
"I know [Thomas] can't say anything right now but if he could he would be thanking everyone," Young told the news station.