ALL Mitchell Spencer ever wanted was to be like any other boy.
And now, two years after undergoing life-changing surgery, his wish has come true.
The Hartlepool 12-year-old canoes and plays rugby, football and baseball with his pals.
He excels in the gym and has even picked up a school award for Best Achiever in PE.
But for Mitchell, it is even more of an achievement because – two years ago last week the youngster was in the USA for surgery.
In October 2010, Mitchell, who has cerebral palsy, faced two bouts of surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy at a children’s hospital in Missouri.
There to support him were his parents Deborah and Phil, 41, a freelance television cameraman.
First, the nerves in his legs, which were sending faulty messages to his muscles, were cut to leave the remaining nerves intact.
Days later, Mitchell had more surgery at the hospital to lengthen his heel cords and hamstrings.
Mitchell had the original operation thanks to a £50,000 fundraising campaign – called Get Mitchell To America – supported by dozens of people throughout Hartlepool and the North-East.
Now, his recovery is so good, his past problems are barely noticeable, says mum Deborah, 46.
“We don’t worry about his future any more,” said Deborah from the West Park area of town. “We never take it for granted because he still works hard to do his training – we call it that rather than physiotherapy – but we are constantly amazed by him.”
Immediately after his return home from the operation, Mitchell could only take a few tentative steps.
Now he plays in the park with his friends, walks miles to their homes and back, and works out in a gym.
He was voted the best achiever in PE at Teesside High School in Eaglescliffe where he is a student in Year 8.
He’s doing well in lessons, especially mathematics and science.
“He is living the life now that he always should have done,” said Deborah. “He is just an ordinary boy and that is all he has ever wanted to be.”