17th Sep, 2021

Social media appeal prompts worldwide response to replace disabled Coventry teenager's favourite toy

Coventry Editorial 6th Jul, 2021

PEOPLE from around the world have come together to replace a disabled Coventry teenager’s discontinued favourite toy after hers began to break.

Josie Wheel, 18, posted a message on Twitter asking for help in finding a Vtech Light Up Learning Bug for her sister Rosie Wheel, 15, which the company stopped selling ‘nearly a decade’ ago.

Picture: PA. s

Rosie, who has profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), has loved the toy since her second birthday, however all of the family’s stash of 15 versions of the toy are now failing to work.

Social media users responded quickly, with Ms Wheel now estimating that 30 of the toys may now be on the way for her sister.

Ms Wheel told the PA news agency: “Rosie’s current working ladybug broke yesterday so in the efforts to fix one of our broken 15 we thought we’d give social media a go.

“We never expected the response to be so huge.

“I’ve had people from all over the globe messaging me which is completely insane.

“It’s really heart-warming that so many people are so determined to help, even though they know nothing about Rosie and out of the goodness of their heart they just want to help.

“It is very overwhelming though because the notifications just won’t stop.”

Ms Wheel, a special needs site co-ordinator, said plenty of people had come forward with new toys – or offers to fix the existing ones – after Rosie’s 15 ladybugs began to break ‘due to so much usage’.

She said: “At the moment it’s looking at about 10 to 15 (replacements) but people are still coming forward so I’m presuming it’s going to be closer to 30 which will be amazing.

The Vtech Light Up Learning Bugs which are Rosie’s favourite toy. Picture: PA. s

“We haven’t got hold of any yet. The first one is being collected tomorrow and many are starting to be sent out to people to then ship onto us.”

Ms Wheel said Rosie does not ‘completely understand’ what these strangers have done for her, but she’ll be happy once she can physically see the new toys.

She said: “Rosie will be set for a long time if we only get 10, so any more than that will keep us going for years.

“She doesn’t completely understand everything that’s going on, due to her condition, but when she can physically see all of them she will be really excited.”

Lorraine Wheel, the girls’ mum, added: “Josie and her sister have the strongest bond and Josie will do anything to make sure that Rosie is the happiest girl ever.

“I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

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