Shows of support for those in the medical profession may have been plentiful throughout 2020, but karateka Brooke Graham’s act of gratitude proved a cut above simply “clapping for carers”.
As a thank you for the life-saving care she received at Birmingham Children’s Hospital as a baby, the now nine-year-old volunteered to raise funds by losing her locks and shaving her head this summer.
The GKR Karate student, who trains at the Belgrave dojo in Tamworth, underwent major heart surgery within days of being born – and weighing just 5lb 9oz – after doctors discovered she had a narrowing of the aortic arch, a thin valve and hole between the organ’s bottom two chambers.
Brooke spent a week in intensive care – and further six weeks moving between wards – following the complex procedure before finally heading home with relieved parents Jayne and Damien.
Demonstrating beyond doubt that doctors had left her with a good heart, it was Brooke who devised the dual plan to donate her ponytail to a child fighting illness and pump funds in the direction of the West Midlands hospital earlier this year.
After discussing the logistics with loved ones, Brooke decided to pledge her hair to The Little Princess Trust – a charity specialising in providings wigs to children and young people affected by cancer – and a JustGiving page was set up to collect sponsorship for her healthcare heroes.
Within 24 hours of its launch, the Region 25 karateka had smashed her original target of £300 and her extreme haircut, which was live-streamed on Instagram and Facebook, raised more than £1,400 for the hospital she visits annually for an ultrasound and ECG.
“Brooke loves her hair and, as a family, we are extremely proud of her for what she has done,” mum Jayne said. “She has always been a thoughtful yet crazy child, but we were still taken back by her generosity.”
It’s not too late to show your support for Brooke – donations can be made at justgiving.com/fundraising/brookesheadshave