A Hartlepool schoolboy - who has made it his mission to walk unaided and pain-free - has made a massive breakthrough in his quest to make his dream a reality.
Ever since Alfie Smith returned from Leeds General Hospital where he underwent a life-changing operation in March, he has had to battle his way back to health.
The selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) left him weak, wheelchair bound, and having to start over getting back on his feet.
But two months on and following extensive physiotherapy, the nine-year-old - who was born with cerebral palsy - had been able to stand for the first time independently.
His mum Annie Stalley, said: “Alfie is doing amazingly well. He is surprising us all the time with his progress. It’s happening lot quicker than we thought it would.
“But he still has a long way to go.”
It is now hoped he will continue progressing and will soon be up and about using his kay-walker, then sticks.
Alfie, a pupil at Throston School in Hartlepool still needs to undergo two further surgeries - one on his hamstrings and another on his knees if he is to eventually have the chance to one day walk unaided and pain free.
The youngster began the long road to achieving his dream, last year, when his family launched a fundraising drive to pay for the operation and a minimum of two-years of aftercare, which needed to be in place before surgeons would allow the surgery to go ahead.
The family needed to raise at least £50k.
However, the true cost of getting the youngster on his feet will be a lot higher.
However, as well as the minimum amount needed, fundraising efforts by the people of Hartlepool and across the North East has enabled the family to also purchase the specialist equipment needed to help Alfie progress.
The SDR operation involved Alfie’s back being cut open so that tests could be carried out on the nerve fibres running from the muscles to the spinal cord.
This was to find out which ones most hamper his mobility.
They are then divided to reduce stiffness.
The operation took between five and six hours.
Xercise4Less Hartlepool has also continued its support of Alfie on his journey to walking independently.
This time in partnership with Matrix Fitness to provide his family with a treadmill to assist in his physiotherapy program.
General Manager at Xercise4Less Hartlepool, Karen Williamson, said: “We are happy to be able to help the family of this brave young boy in any way we can.
“Our members have supported Alfie’s journey and fundraising efforts in the lead up to his surgery and it feels only fitting that we continue to do so as he progresses into this next phase of recovery.”
Gregg Rumble, spokesman for Matrix Fitness Systems said: “When we were made aware of Alfie’s story we were eager to help in any way possible.”
“We hope that the treadmill we have provided, and customised to Alfie’s frame, will be of some help to the family as he continues his physiotherapy.”
*To find out more and to follow Alfie’s journey please visit www.helpalfiewalk.co.uk.
A football match and a night of entertainment are being organised to boost the aftercare funds for Hartlepool schoolboy Alfie Smith.
The Town of Hartlepool fundraising group has organised a children’s soccer match on June 2.
The event will see Throston Primary School’s under 11s take on Greatham FC’s under 11s.
During the match stalls, food and a raffle will be held.
Gates to the event will open at 3pm until 5.30pm.
The game will be followed by a night of entertainment at the Engineers Club in Raby Road from 7pm.
On stage Ukelear Power will be performing, The Jades will also take to the stage along with a number of other acts yet to be confirmed.
Monies raised throughout the two events will be donated to Alfie’s Fund.
Tickets costing £3 for adults and £1 for children and include entry to both events are available now.
People can call Throston School on 01429 288 297 or Stan on 01429 291 466.
Meanwhile, Abbie Bevan and her partner Daniel Watson, from Hartlepool, will be hitting the road in July in a banger which cost them £400.
The 1996 Mitsubishi FTO GPX has since been spruced up and now bears Alfie’s image to help raise cash for Alfie.
The couple, are taking part in the ‘Rusty Rex Rally’ which will see them join other bangers driving to Nice in France.
They have set themselves a target of raising £600 for the youngster.
Anyone who would like to make a donation visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/driveforalfie