A YOUNGSTER described as a ‘true hero’ has had her wheelchair uniquely ‘pimped’ to reflect her personality.

Nine-year-old April Benton, from Malton, is one of only nine children in the world suffering from bilateral striatal necrosis, which affects her mobility. She was diagnosed with the condition after contracting a virus in 2014.

Her mother Sarah said: “April led a normal childhood until 2013 when, aged 18 months old, she contracted a virus which resulted in her immune system being compromised and it attacked her brain. April suffered life-changing brain damage which affects the movement and brain signals to both sides of her body – significantly worse on her left side of her body.”

April, who attends St Mary’s Primary School in Malton, also needs specialised equipment, including an adapted car seat.

She previously had a splint fitted and a walking frame to help her have some independence. However, her physical health has deteriorated during the Covid pandemic and April’s parents realised she now needed a wheelchair.

Sarah said: “Following our fundraising in 2018 and 2019 April now has the space and facilities she needs at home to try and progress independently as much as is possible for her.”

Sarah said: “However, when Covid hit in 2020, April – like most children and adults reliant on regular input of physio and occupational therapy – Covid has severely affected their care.

“Most of the therapists were redeployed in the pandemic, and before we knew it April’s physical needs severely deteriorated.”

Sarah added: “Trying to do best by April, we knew now was the time a wheelchair was needed and the referrals were put into place. April was very lucky to get to choose the colour of her new wheels, and she opted for yellow so in her words ‘I want yellow, Mummy, so I can be as bright as the sunshine’.

“As her mother I knew this was going to be a huge transition for her, one which could have gone either way; I didn’t want her to resent it. I thought about how I could make the wheelchair more fun, and decided to contact Big Boolies in Malton to see if they could help ‘pimp her ride’.”

Big Boolies, based in Showfield Lane, is run by Gemma and Nick Mills, and provides branded attire for individuals, organisations and companies.

Sarah said: “Gemma and Nick were fantastic.

“April and I chose a design for her wheels and we agreed this with Gemma.

“We were utterly shocked to be advised that payment was not required and that ‘special girls do not get charged, this is our gift to April for being a true hero of Malton’.”

Sarah added: “April received her new wheels last week from Big Boolies which are bespoke and the first of their kind produced by them - April is absolutely delighted by her new additions.

“April has received lots of comments on her wheels from her classmates at school and when we have been out and about, she is so proud they belong to her.

“April is now embracing her new wheelchair and this is huge thanks to the team at Big Boolies for making her dream come true.

“Thank you so much for pimping her ride!”