A £35,000 step closer for Leeds boy’s wish to walk

REASON TO SMILE: James Driver celebrating with his mum Tracy. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
REASON TO SMILE: James Driver celebrating with his mum Tracy. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A disabled schoolboy has taken just six months to raise £35,000 for the operation that could help him walk unaided for the first time.

Eight-year-old James Driver, who has cerebral palsy, issued a heartfelt message to everyone who has contributed to the remarkable James’ Wish to Walk campaign as he prepares to go under the knife on Thursday, November 29.

He said: “A very big thank-you to everyone who has raised a lot of money. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. You’re very thoughtful.”

James, of Rothwell, was born 11 weeks premature and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at nine months old. He struggles to walk more than a few metres at a time – even with support.

His mum, Tracy, found out about a £25,000 operation that could give him full use of his legs, but was told that it wasn’t available on the NHS.

In May, James, who attends Robin Hood Junior and Infants School, told the YEP he was launching a bid to raise the money himself – plus the £20,000 needed for physiotherapy and after care.

Using a walking frame, he walked the whole course in the 1.5km Jane Tomlinson Junior and Mini Run for All in Leeds and was enlisted to officially start the York Junior and Mini Run for All.

Since then, money has flooded in from people touched by his story.

Tracy, 39, said: “It has been unbelievable. We’ve had loads of anonymous donations, children have given us their piggy bank money. We’re so touched.”

The cash will pay for a four-hour procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy that involves identifying and cutting the spinal nerves causing stiffness and pain.

It is only the third time the operation, which until relatively recently was only performed in the USA, has been carried out at Leeds General Infirmary.

James will then have intensive physiotherapy.

He added: “I just want to be able to walk on my own.”

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