By George, we’ve done it!
Life-changing operation in America is a reality for boy who dreams of taking his first steps.
A FUND-raising campaign to send a little boy to America for life-changing surgery has reached its �55,000 target in just four months.
George Palmer, 4, is unable to walk due to cerebral palsy but will now have the chance to use his legs for the first time after a monumental effort by parents, family, friends and people throughout North Devon.
In February, the Gazette reported how parents Nicki and Gary launched the ‘George’s First Steps’ campaign after being told their son was eligible for selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery at a specialist children’s hospital in Missouri.
The operation, which involves cutting away the nerve endings that do not work properly, is not automatically available on the NHS.
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After meeting the target with a donation by Barnstaple Round Table, an emotional Nicki said she now hoped to be able to bring the date of the surgery forward to October.
“I would do it tomorrow but George has recently had botox injections and needs to be six months clear before he has surgery,” she told the Gazette.
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“He starts Kingsacre Primary School in September so it will be nice for him to have time to settle in and make friends before he goes to America.”
The Braunton parents described how they were ‘blown away’ by a surprise donation from the Round Table on Tuesday week.
Nicki said: “It’s incredible – mind blowing really. I was completely gobsmacked and the whole family has been in tears during the last few days. We’re just so, so happy; it’s real now – it’s going to happen.
“Our little boy is going to have a chance of using his legs. For the first time since George was born I feel like I can just sit back and be a mum.”
“I’ve never won the lottery but I think I know how it feels now,” added Gary.
Club chairman Solomon Singh and immediate past chairman Simon Randall visited the family at their home to find out more about the campaign
After driving away to discuss how they could help, they returned to the doorstep 10 minutes later with a cheque for �4,999 – the exact amount of money needed to hit the target.
“I think they were a bit gobsmacked,” said Simon.
“Nicki and Gary have put in a tremendous effort and have sacrificed so much for their wonderful little boy. It was quite an emotional moment for us all.
“We tend to help causes that don’t have the opportunity to get funding themselves and although it’s unusual for us to chip into a bigger pot, this is such a worthy cause.
“A Round Table member has a relative who was diagnosed with the same condition and the same surgery has had a life-changing impact on him.”
Solomon said that on top of the donation, the club had also pledged to buy a special treadmill that George will need after his surgery.
He said: “George is an absolute star and we are hoping that the operation is a success for him.
“With his zest for life he’s a future Round Table candidate for sure.”
Nicki and Gary thanked everyone for their unfaltering support during the last few months.
She said: “We feel very special – all around the village everyone stops and says ‘hi’ and asks how George is. It’s really special to have so many people rooting for him.
“We’ve been fund-raising for 16 weeks this week and there are still 11 events taking place for George. He will need ongoing therapy after his operation and 100 per cent of the money raised will help pay for the treatment he needs.
“It’s been a really fun few months and we’ve met so many people and made so many new friends.
“The fact that there has been so many people doing so many lovely things for George has made it one of the best years of my life.”