Big-hearted fund-raisers pulled an eight-ton single-decker bus at the weekend to help to pay for a two-and-a-half-year-old girl's medical treatment.

Sophia Carter, who suffers continuous unexplained epileptic seizures, is flying to the United States next month for tests by Michigan-based Dr Harry Chugani, the world's leading specialist in epilepsy. Sophia's parents Alison and Jon, from New Marske, have received between £6,000 and £7,000 to help to pay for the trip from readers of The Northern Echo and through radio station TFM's Make A Child Smile appeal.

If Dr Chugani decides he can operate on Sophia - who can't walk, talk, stand or sit - the family will have to find the money to make a return flight to the states and pay for the surgery.

The weekend fund-raising event gave the fund a real boost.

The bus pull by Arriva drivers and depot workers plus members and staff of the Olympia gymnasium at Redcar was a milestone as the bus was the first vehicle to travel along Redcar's newly re-opened Lord Street.

Mrs Carter said: "It was amazing - and touching - that all these people wanted to help Sophia and they had not met her.''

Money can be sent to the appeal - Epilepsy Outlook - at 72 Sandmoor Road, New Marske, near Redcar, TS11 8DJ. Money left over following Sophia's treatment will be spend on helping other children in similar plights