Little Dottie O’Keefe is making great strides towards walking on her own two feet unaided.
Just five weeks after undergoing a life-changing operation after the town raised £35,000 to pay for it, the determined four-year-old has taken her first steps.
Proud mum Helen Noon posted a video on social media of Dottie walking while holding on to just her hand.
Before Dottie had the operation, called a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), she was unable to walk without the use of a special frame to support her.
Helen, 25, of Rossmere, said: “It is quite a big step for her as she couldn’t do that before the surgery.
“She didn’t have the balance because of the spasticity in her legs, she just used to collapse on the floor.
“The doctors are amazed with her progress. They think she is learning quite fast.
“It is a bit difficult for her because she has a cast on her right leg but once that comes off she might be even better. I’m just amazed by it every day.”
Dottie has been determined to walk by herself ever since having the five-hour surgery to at Leeds General Infirmary.
“Every time you say to Dottie that she can’t do something she just wants to prove you wrong,” added Helen.
Dottie has been gradually building up the strength in her leg muscles with physiotherapy three times a week at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
She has been doing so well that she has also started to go back to nursery at Grange Primary School one day a week.
Helen, also mum to two-year-old Connie, added: “She wasn’t going to go back so soon but she was complaining she had no one to play with.
“The physiotherapist said it would be good for her movement.”
She added: “Dottie is really annoyed about the cast because she just wants to learn to walk but it comes off on Thursday.
“Then hopefully she will be able to walk on her own.”
Dottie’s operation is currently not funded by the NHS. It was paid for after her family raised the money in just four months thanks to charity Miles for Men, TMD Friction, where Dottie’s dad Daniel O’Keefe works, and other businesses including Utility Alliance, 23 Taxis and Mark Johnston Flooring.