With cheeks made for squishing and a personality to match, Paige Thomas is the type of two-year-old you just want to cuddle.
But sadly, this much-adored Moree toddler is fighting the battle of her life, a sudden, and relatively unknown disease known as Acute Necrotizing Encephalopathy (ANE).
ANE is a rare, severe and rapidly progressing disease affecting the brain, which develops shortly after a viral infection.
With her family by her side in Sydney and a community in shock, her aunt Tahni Dell has set up a Go Fund Me page to help alleviate some of the financial burden Paige’s parents, Adam and Jess Thomas, may face.
Initially flown to Randwick Children’s Hospital, Paige was this week transferred to Bear Cottage, Manly, and Tahni said it’s now a waiting game.
“The future is uncertain, we just have to take things day by day, no one knows yet the extent or cost of Paigey’s rehabilitation,” she said.
“The funds raised will primarily go to support any treatments and ongoing costs for Paigey.”
With all sides of Paigey’s family firmly entrenched in the Moree community, it’s little surprise the response to the ‘Go Fund Me’ page has been overwhelming.
The Thomas family pioneered the local motorbike industry through Thomas Lee Motorcycles, while Ron Harborne Oval is named after Paigey’s late great grandfather, who was a huge contributor to the community.
Grandmother, Catherine Harborne, owner of popular Moree business, Mytyme Beauty, has not left Paigey’s hospital bed.
“So many people in the community know and love Paigey, she makes a real impact on people, and we can see that now by the support we’ve been offered,” Tahni said.
“Jess, Adam and Paige are a beautiful little family, and they would be the first to help anyone in this situation, so if the community is looking for an opportunity to help, this money will go a long way.”
Members of the Moree community are also showing their support for Paige by wearing plaits in their hair and posting photos to social media with the hashtag #plaitsforpaigey.
To donate to Paige please go to https://www.gofundme.com/help-support-paigey - every little bit helps.
Further information on ANE is available www.aneinternational.org