SWFL community raises money for 10-year-old girl’s spinal surgery

Published: August 17, 2019 6:57 PM EDT
Updated: August 17, 2019 6:58 PM EDT

Community members gathered and businesses sent support to a carnival with a twist to help a young girl who needs an expensive surgery. And it’s not the first time she’s faced a dangerous medical procedure.

Friends and neighbors raised money at Naples Christian Church in North Naples for 10-year-old London Larochelle, so she can afford a plane ticket to San Diego, California to undergo an intensive spinal surgery.

“I’m really hoping that she can return to life as it used to be for her,” said Allie Johnson, London’s mom. “She wasn’t in pain. She was able to dance. She played volleyball.”

The Osceola Elementary student’s mom said the surgery is for severe scoliosis.

“Right now, things are a little hard for her,” Johnson said. “She’s in pain every day.”

But London has fought through a surgery before.

“She survived a massive brain surgery two years ago,” said Sara Jo Estes, who organized the fundraiser. “But this is the spinal surgery that will actually give her a better life.”

The news that London would need this operation weighed heavily on her mom, and she began to hope for a positive outcome.

“When I found out she needed it, I kind of went into a huge panic mode,” Johnson said. “I prayed a lot about how to make this happen.”

Now, Southwest Florida is rallying around London and her family. Almost 100 local businesses donated to the fundraiser held at the church.

“The community … I didn’t even know was gonna get this big,” Estes said. “Thinking it’s off-season, and thinking I don’t know I just never in my wildest dreams in the community has been awesome.”

London’s family said her surgery is scheduled for September 11. And she will need to stay in California for at least three weeks.

London’s grandmother, Jeanie Holmes, said for a silent auction, the community’s support was made loud and clear.

“It shows that there are actually a lot of good loving people out there that have hearts,” Holmes said.