Baby Koa’s 1 in 100,000 condition inspires local fundraiser

April 15, 2021 BY

Ben and Aleisha with baby Koa. Photo: Kristin Pywell

AT just eight weeks old Koa Gibson is the inspiration behind a heartfelt Surf Coast community fundraiser.

The Armstrong Creek newborn may look like a perfect bundle of joy, but her recent diagnosis means she will never develop beyond 4-6 months of age, she will never walk, talk or possibly even smile.

Her incurable neurological condition known as Lissencephaly is a rare condition whereby large parts of the brain are smooth, leaving 1 in 100,000 babies at risk of facing a one to 10-year lifespan.

While mother Aleisha Koopman overcomes infection from her caesarean, her father’s illness, the instability of working in the travel industry and now baby Koa’s diagnosis, former colleagues Carli Hester and Stacey Farnham are rallying together local businesses to do what they can to help.

“We aim to get as much money as we can whether that can pay for six months of their mortgage or their accommodation in Melbourne when Koa is at the Royal Children’s Hospital,” Ms Hester said.

“We want to take as much pressure off as possible.”

While Ms Hester called the news a devastating life sentence, she says the community has really rallied together to donate what they can for the raffle.

“We have about 20 prizes as well as someone offering to clean their house, and an artist who will donate 100 per cent of their profits from a commission,” she said.

“The community just works together when times are tough, they come together, and every little bit adds up.

“There are a lot of opportunities to win some amazing prizes with heaps of variety including a night’s accommodation, dinner vouchers, beauty vouchers, facials, art supplies, hampers, family portraits from professional photographers, jewellery, reflexology vouchers, free car hire from Hire A Kombi, candles, massages and we are still waiting to hear back from other people.”

Big sister Ava with baby Koa. PHOTO: Kristin Pywell

Prizes are set to be finalised by Friday with the raffle going live next week through an online system that will be advertised on all local community Facebook pages.

“It has been amazing and very overwhelming,” she said.

“It is our way of helping. There is not a lot we can do but every dollar will help them take some sort of financial pressure of.”

Ms Koopman says she is appreciative for the community who have come from all walks of life to offer support through a variety of gestures.

“We have come leaps and bounds from two weeks ago,” she said.

“I don’t think I would have managed to get through the last two weeks without all the support that we have had.

“It has been amazing, little things like this that might take someone a couple hours of their time is just life changing for us and we are very grateful for the time spent and the generosity of people in the community.”

At the time of print the GoFundMe page had raised $17,480 in 11 days with the contribution of 249 donors.

Raffle tickets will be available online from next week while donations can currently be made via the link: https://bit.ly/3g0scRV

To stay up to date with Koa’s journey, follow @koa_eve on Instagram.