Dreams do come true ... how Belfast Telegraph story on Nicole has inspired readers to help
Nicole McBride may suffer from a rare genetic condition that will ultimately claim her life, but when she turns 10 next month the beautiful little girl will have a birthday she will never forget.
Since this newspaper published the heartbreaking story last week about Nicole's battle with Ataxia-telangiectasia (AT), we have been inundated with offers from people wanting to help her achieve her 'bucket list' of wishes.
Her overwhelmed mother Shona has been blown away by the generosity of Belfast Telegraph readers.
She said: "I am shocked that total strangers are doing this for Nicole. She will be so excited and will have the biggest smile on her face."
Belfast-based American Holidays has volunteered to throw a themed birthday party for Nicole, while Belfast Giants star Graeme Walton is going to take to the ice with Nicole. Another reader has donated a Real Baby doll.
Nicole is believed to be one of just six people in Ireland with AT.
The cruel condition means she has to have a blood transfusion every three weeks and is confined to a wheelchair.
She is also so at risk from infection that she hasn't been able to attend school since before Christmas.
In 2011 the Make A Wish Foundation helped Nicole achieve her dream of going to Disneyworld in Florida.
Devoted Shona and dad Michael, who are her full-time carers, tragically told how she will finally fall victim to Locked-in-syndrome, and has a life expectancy of between just 16 and 21 years.
Karen Sheals-Hay, manager of American Holidays in Lombard Street, Belfast, said: "I was nearly moved to tears by Nicole's illness and the trauma both she and her family have been through.
"We want to spoil her rotten on her birthday and make her feel like a real princess.
"The story certainly put life into perspective and if we could do something to put a smile on Nicole and her family's face – even if just for one day – it would be so worthwhile," she added.
After reading the article, Belfast Giant and local lad Graeme said that he would also like to help little Nicole in any way he can.
"I really admire the spirit of little Nicole and her family, who just want to give her as normal a life as possible.
"When I read that one of her wishes was to ice skate on real skates, it made me realise that we all sometimes take simple things like going ice skating with friends and family for granted," he said.
"As a new dad myself, I know what it's like to want to give your child things that make them happy, that's why it would be a privilege for me to help make her dream to skate a reality."
Graeme also invited Nicole and her family to his testimonial match in the Belfast Odyssey on Tuesday night to help him celebrate being with the Giants for the past 10 years.
Nicole's mum added: "I am totally gobsmacked by what these people are willing to do for a wee'un they do not even know.
"Their kindness means a lot to us. We have never experienced such generosity.
"We also hope it raises awareness of AT and for the AT Society."
Nicole's Bucket List
1. I want to go to Disneyland — achieved
2. I want a small puppy that doesn’t grow
3. I want a robot that can do everything
4. I want a horse or pony
5. I want my legs back so I can run
6. I want a baby doll that looks real — has been kindly offered
7. I want to see the Lion King
8. I want to ice-skate with real skates —has been kindly offered
9. I want an over-the-top birthday party — has been kindly offered
10. I want to dye my hair blonde with pink ends — has been kindly offered
11. I want a dream bedroom
12. I want to walk again
13. I want to dance
14. I want to live
15. I want to swim with the dolphins
If you would like to help Nicole achieve anything on her bucket list, please contact Lindsay Fergus at the Belfast Telegraph by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone, 028 9026 4358