A STAITHES teenager celebrated her 16th birthday by leaping out of a plane to help raise money for a charity close to her heart.
Stephanie Croden turned 16 at the end of June and fulfilled a lifelong dream of doing a tandem sky dive, raising £700 for Rett Syndrome Research Trust UK.
Miss Croden chose the charity as her best friend’s sister, five-year-old Emlyn Coates from Whitby, suffers from the illness, for which there is currently no cure.
Miss Croden said: “Emlyn is an intelligent, beautiful and magical little girl that lights up any room with her warm personality, and suffering from Rett Syndrome doesn’t stop her from melting your heart.
“Being very close to this lovely family, I felt I wanted to help.
“I jumped from 13,000 feet and we were free-falling for 40 seconds and it was absolutely brilliant, the best birthday present ever.”
Rett Syndrome affects baby girls who are born seemingly healthy but begin to regress between the ages of 12-36 months, losing speech, hand use, normal movement and mobility.
Most are left with complex medical needs as well as severe disabilities, and all are at increased risk of sudden and unexplained death.
Kori Coates, Emyln’s mother and co-founder of the charity, said: “Imagine how it will feel for Stephanie to have helped fund a cure for this appalling disease.
“Everyone in our family loves Stef and couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Miss Croden added: “I’d like to thank everyone who sponsored me and the money will make such a difference to these children and their families.
“Hopefully we can help unlock little girls like Emlyn from this debilitating disorder they have to live with.”
To find out more about Rett Syndrome visit www.reverserett.org.uk.