A TODDLER with a rare and incurable condition has delighted his York family by walking for the first time.
Blake Knaggs suffers from Mucolipidosis II ML2 (MPS), which often leaves children too weak even to sit up, says his aunt, Joanne Addinall.
But Blake, who recently celebrated his second birthday, was given a mobile walking frame by York Hospital in the autumn and he now uses it to whiz about his home at Derwenthorpe, and up and down the pavement outside.
"It's really quite unusual for someone with that condition to be able to do that," said Joanne.
"The lady from the MPS society was very impressed, and said many children with it can't even sit up. It really lifts the family's spirits to see him like that.
"He seems to be defying the odds and is coming on in leaps and bounds."
Blake's mother Louise said: "He loves it. It gives him more independence and he's able to get about."
She revealed that having learnt to walk, Blake was now also learning to 'drive' after his grandparents, Sue and John Addinall, gave him a little sports car for Christmas which he could sit in, with his mother Louise helping to steer it with a remote control.
Blake's achievements crowned a year in which a fundraising drive, dubbed The Blake's Genes Appeal, raised almost £30,000.
The money has paid for a sensory room at his home, full of stimulating colour and light, bubbles and mirrors, which has assisted his parents in encouraging him to stand up. Money has also gone to Martin House Hospice at Boston Spa, where Blake has stayed, and to the Society for Mucopolysaccharide Diseases to fund research into his condition.
The appeal, organised by Joanne and her best friend Katie Johnson, featured events including a family fun day at Haxby, an auction evening and raffle, a pamper evening, a fun dog show and walk, and a Blue for Blake day, when people at schools and businesses across York wore something blue.
Joanne said a Haxby boxer, Dale Waddington, had recently organised a boxing match in the village which had also raised another £400 for the appeal, and another Wear Blue for Blake day was also being planned on February 12, and she hoped more businesses and schools would get involved.
She said money would also be used to help fund a major seminar in the UK this year, with experts in the illness from around the world invited to attend to pool their knowledge and stimulate fresh research.