I know you didn’t expect to see me here today but Lavada has kindly stepped aside to allow me to post a special message of hope, faith, charity, courage and determination that has turned the life around of one special little boy in my family. For those of you who know the story of George’s First Steps from my own blog, I make no apologies for telling it again. For those who are unfamiliar with it, grab a coffee and a box of tissues, pull up a chair and let your heart melt as I give you some background to the two videos at the heart and end of this post.
George is the not quite 6-year-old son of my nephew. When George was 3 days old a MRI Scan revealed he’d suffered a major brain haemorrhage before birth. Doctors said he would never walk, never talk and have severe disabilities including but not limited to cerebral palsy, epilepsy and possible vision problems, and that he would never know his parents or understand the world or have anything like a good life. That was the day normal life stopped for his parents. What makes this all the more poignant for my family is the heartbreaking family history in the years before his birth, which I won’t go into here.
With courage and determination, constant therapy at a marvellous private foundation in the UK called Footsteps eased the stiffness in his limbs. He learnt to speak , learning more words all the time. What is remarkable is he is always smiling. His laugh is infectious, his smile so captivating you want to hug him to bits. George has come a long way since those first dark days following his entry into the world. We are so proud of all he has achieved but it has meant constant worry and fund raising to pay for his therapy.
A little over 12 months ago we learnt he was accepted for a life-changing SDR operation to be carried out at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, but the procedure had to be done before he was 5 years old for it to be successful. That gave the family only 6 months to raise the money to pay for it – £55,000 (about $84,000?). It seemed impossible. A huge mountain to climb. So began a huge fundraising campaign: from marathons and sponsored slims to my sister-in-law in Spain having her head publicly shaved. Money came in from all over the world, a painting donated for auction from a Canadian artist; stores dressing up for the day, all sorts, you name it, we did it. In a little over 4 months we not only raised the full amount, we exceeded it by over £20,000 – enough to pay for his continued physio for several years, and some.
George had his operation just over 6 months ago. The difference is tremendous. He will always probably need the aid of his walker or sticks to walk but each day he gets stronger. The physio will continue until he stops growing and in a few years’ time he will need a hip replacement and some corrective eye surgery. But to think, 6 months ago he couldn’t sit unaided, spent a lot of his time on the floor, shuffling on his stomach to get anywhere, and struggled to do the simplest of tasks we take for granted. Not any more. He’s gained so much independence, goes to a normal school and has friends in to play, even having a part in the school nativity play at Christmas; his speech is improving constantly, and his cheekiness and sense of fun is as wonderful as ever, if not more so.
Rather than go on listing his achievements, his proud parents have put together a video which I hope you’ll take a few minutes to view. I’ve watched it several times and still my eyes fill with tears at what has been made possible by each and every one who donated and helped to make this all possible. The closing statement on the video says it all…
George has only just learnt to push his walker himself after 6.5 months of hard, hard work so what he will achieve in this next 6 months is too exciting to think about. Through it all he hasn’t lost his sense of fun and that enigmatic smile never ceases to touch the heart of everyone. He wouldn’t be where he is today without the generosity of family, friends and strangers, and no amount of thank yous can express the joy these past 6 months have bought to George, his parents and family. The next video comes from the heart, from George:
Enjoy the video, people: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgXU_sjw7Z8
To think that when he was born his parents found out he had quadriplegic cerebral palsy and doctors said he would never walk, talk or know who anyone was… Well, hasn’t he proved them all wrong!!!