Cheryl Broadfoot is from Droylsden, Manchester, UK, and is mum to 3 children, her youngest son Bobby, 7, is severely autistic and non-verbal. Cheryl is also the events co coordinator for Hearts and Minds Charity, whom we interviewed back in September about their upcoming Las Vegas Charity Ball which will be taking place on 9th November.
At the Las Vegas Ball Cheryl will be raising funds for the charity by shaving her head. Cheryl hopes to raise £5,000. This is what Cheryl states on her My Donate page.
“I have agreed to have my head shaved at the Hearts and minds annual ball on November the 9th if we can raise a minimum of £5000. Anybody who knows me will know that my cutting of my hair will be like cutting of Samson’s. I am doing it not only for the funds but to raise awareness to the difficulty parents can face for simple tasks as cutting their child’s hair.”
When interviewing Cheryl it became very clear just how passionate she is about helping other parents who have autistic children and offering them support. She is a very upbeat, positive and enthusiastic woman who is on a mission to help others and raise awareness.
“I’m a very positive person, autism is an invisible disability and people don’t always understand because they cannot see it. If I can help other parents then I will. There is no support out there through social services or the NHS, the only support is from other parents who have gone through the same things and understand.”
Cheryl launched her appeal, ‘Give Bobby a Voice’ through the Hearts and Minds charity ‘mobile phone scheme’ on World Autism Day this year. Cheryl explained that her decision to launch on World Autism Day was very deliberate as this is when she would gain most exposure as, she jokingly said, ’Many people think that Autism only happens on one day of the year’
The aim of her appeal was to exchange enough mobile phones through the scheme to allow every child in Bobby’s class at Oakdale Special School in Dukinfield to have an IPad, and she succeeded. In total she received 8 IPads from the charity. Cheryl accomplished this by starting her own media campaign and gained huge support both locally and nationally. It was during this media campaign that Cheryl was contacted by Hearts and Minds to become their events co coordinator.
Recently Cheryl spoke at the event ‘Horse-Racing and Madness Concert’ at Haydock Park that took place in July this year. Stars from sport and television attended the event and one celebrity was John Fashanu, a television presenter and ex professional footballer. Cheryl told Autism Daily Newscast that Mr Fashanu was inspired by her speech and that it was by listening to her that he decided to take an active role in the charity and to talk publicly about his son’s learning disability. Mr Fashanu is now one of the Ambassadors for the charity.
Cheryl told us that Bobby was diagnosed at 2 ½ with Autism and that she knew something was ‘not right from the moment he was born.’
“He would not sleep at all and I was kept in hospital for 4 weeks because of this. I have two older children as well and so therefore I knew the developmental milestones to look for with Bobby.”
Bobby attends a specialist school which Cheryl says ‘he loves’ and in the morning ‘he lies on his bed and looks out of the window for the bus.’
Cheryl believes that shaving her head will also raise awareness about the sensory issues that children with autism face and the fact that any grooming and indeed haircuts can be a very traumatic experience for them. She had the following to say about the issue of autistic children having their hair cut.
“If Bobby was to have his hair cut he wouldn’t recognise himself in the mirror afterwards and would become very distressed. We would know that our hair was going to grow back but Bobby would think that he would be bald for the rest of his life. He would think that it’s never growing back”
Cheryl is hoping to raise lots of money for the campaign but as well as this she is hoping to raise awareness about autism. She said that for every person donating money they are also helping to raise awareness.
Cheryl truly is an inspiration and a ‘mum on a mission’. Her final words were simply
“Give me your money”