Kind-hearted fundraisers pulled together as they made the first steps on a journey to help a Hartlepool schoolboy walk unaided for the first time.
Nine-year-old Alfie Smith was born with cerebral palsy, which affects the movement in his arms and legs.
It leaves him in severe pain, and unable to do everyday tasks, including walking, due to the lack of spasticity in his legs.
His mum, Annie Stalley, recently received a boost, though, when she was told of an operation which would increase the spasticity in his muscles.
The operation costs £50,000, and the family is now in a race against time to raise the funds needed.
A first fundraising event was held yesterday at Seaton Carew, as dozens took part in a sponsored walk along the seafront.
We’re so grateful for the way the town has pulled together, as it always does in situations like thisLee Wilmot
Over £1,000 has been raised in the last fortnight, and one of the organisers of yesterday’s event, Lee Wilmot, has been “overwhelmed” by the support so far.
He said: “It was a sponsored walk because we want Alfie to walk.
“We need as much support as possible, so it was fantastic to see the turnout for this.
“We’ve already raised £1,000 in just two weeks. That’s a great start for us.
“The support is fantastic.
“It’s overwhelming. We’re so grateful for the way the town has pulled together, as it always does in situations like this.”
A number of other fundraising events are planned, with charity champion Stephen Picton among the other organisers.
Stephen and Lee are planned a sponsored event in February, which will see one of them hitch-hike from Land’s End and the other from John O’Groats, before meeting in the middle of the country.
The operation the family would like Alfie to undergo is selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery.
It would be carried out at Leeds General Infirmary, and at the moment, Alfie is an ideal candidate.
However, if his condition deteriorates, he will no longer be suitable for the surgery, so family and friends are aiming to raise the money to pay for it as quickly as possible.
At the moment, Alfie has to undergo intense physiotherapy three times a day, and twice a year he has Botulinum injections to make it easier for his exercises to be carried out.
To donate to the fund, and to find out more information, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpalfiewalk