A TEENAGER from York is taking the first steps of his life after a huge fundraising campaign helped pay for pioneering surgery on his legs.
With just a reassuring hand from his mother Adele, Thomas Arnett, of Strensall, is finding his feet and overcoming the cerebral palsy which has prevented him walking since birth, with only a reassurring hand from his mother Adele.
Seven months have passed since the 15-year-old underwent a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy in Bristol after Adele and friend Clare Inkster successfully raised more than £25,000.
The money came from donations from the public and local businesses.
Clare said: “He holds on to your finger but he’s definitely walking now – he’s out and about.
“He can swim now too. He has so much drive and I can see the confidence in him. He’s had a follow-up in Bristol and they were delighted with how he was getting on.”
Looking back on the fundraising campaign which paid for the operation, Clare said it was hard work but worth it and she thanked everyone who had donated.
The money which was left over is now being used to pay for the hydrotherapy and physiotherapy which is helping to build Thomas’s strength.
He is also using an all-terrain wheelchair until he is able to walk on uneven surfaces such as grass.
Thomas finds speaking difficult because of his condition. However, Adele, 36, told of his brave battle.
She said: “It’s hard for Thomas. Other people who have the operation are sometimes independent walkers but he wasn’t. Walking was a goal for the future.
“He can now move one leg independently of the other, which is massive for him. The next goal will be to see him walking with quad sticks, which have four feet on the bottom. It’s all about getting his balance and building his muscles.”
She said: “Thomas is very happy-go-lucky and he’s taking it all in his stride. He’s getting on really well at school too – they are really supportive.”