6:30am Thursday 13th June 2013
By Andrew Bloss
A teenage charity fundraiser who has defied the odds throughout her life has been nominated for a Croydon Champions award.
Lauren Gander, 13, was born with Spina Bifida, a spinal condition, and doctors told her parents that she may never walk again.
Many sufferers of Spina Bifida can end up in a wheelchair or even paralysed but against the odds Lauren learned to walk.
Her mum Linda, and dad Lionel, who have nominated Lauren for the Croydon Champions Child of Courage Award, have helped their daughter every step of the way which has seen Lauren raise more than £300,000 for various charities.
Lauren has flown over the channel in a glider, ziplined off a bridge, slept rough in a cardboard box in Brighton, carried out a number of sponsored walks and carried the Olympic torch last summer.
All of these challenges have been for charity, and the huge sum of money raised so far has gone towards a range of good causes, including Whizz Kidz, the Children’s Trust, Great Ormond Street Hospital amongst many others.
Aside from all the fundraising, Lauren’s passion lies in the arts and despite being up against hundreds of others, she landed a place at the BRIT School and starts there in August.
She has performed in various plays and pantomimes but it is her painting and drawing which has impressed the infamous Arts school, whose alumni include Adele, Amy Winehouse and Jessie J.
Lauren and her mother plan to move to Croydon from Bexhill in the summer and were house hunting in Purley last week.
The move will mean Mrs Gander and her daughter will be living away from dad, Lionel, who will continue to live in Sussex.
It is a commitment which the family are happy to make as they continue to support Lauren in her remarkable journey.
Mrs Gander said: "She has fought and struggled with her disability and has devoted her life to both charity and fundraising.
"She had the honour of being an Olympic torchbearer in recognition of her bravery, determination and compassion for others whilst facing her own problems and pain. She is a very special little girl who has indeed defied all the odds."
Lauren Gander with the Olympic Torch
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