A SCOTTISH schoolboy has overcome cerebral palsy to realise his dream of playing football with his father.
Reece Cameron – who celebrates his 10th birthday today (sat) – has spent the past decade in a wheelchair or walking with splints.
But after becoming the first boy in Scotland to undergo a life-changing dorsal rhizotomy operation in the UK, Reece was able to fulfil his simple ambition of enjoying a kickabout with proud dad Scott, 43, an offshore worker.
Reece, from Kennoway, Fife, travelled to a specialist hospital in Bristol six weeks ago for the £24,000 spinal operation, which removes damaged nerves from the spine.
The operation has succeeded beyond his parents’ wildest dreams, and Reece has already gained enough balance and energy to kick a football unaided.
And while there is still a long way to go, mum Jillian, 34, said the effects so far were “fantastic”.
His family are desperately raising funds to pay for the youngster’s rehabilitation over the next two years, fundraising through their Reece’s Goal pages on the internet.
Reece, a Dundee United fan, was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy when he was just 18-months.
The condition meant he had to walk on his tip toes with the aid of splints and tired out easily, stopping him from playing sports with his P6 classmates.
He was usually put in goals in the school playground and watched friends run around enjoying endless games of football.
But the feisty primary pupil six pupil – whose ultimate dream is to become an RAF pilot – can now keep his balance and walk to the extent he can get out of goal and enjoy the fray.
Reece, in a moving message to the people who helped raise funds for his rehabilitation, said: “Thank you very much for helping me with my goal to walk, run, play football and other sports like my friends. It means a lot to me”.
Jillian, an early intervention officer at a primary school, said: “He is getting stronger everyday and we are really noticing in a difference in him.
“He is excited when he comes home from physio sessions, he tells me ‘guess what I can do now mum’, he is seeing the benefits himself which is fantastic.
“With the football, it’s a sport that children all do at school. Before the operation his friends could pass him the ball, but he would often fall over afterwards, as he would lose his balance.
“Reece’s dream was to be able to play football with his friends, and not just to be the goalie.
“Now he has much better balance – and we are looking at encouraging him to join a local football team, which is something we couldn’t before.”
She added: “Reece’s progress has been amazing. Sometimes he can get frustrated, and he wants to be able to do everything his friends can, but at six weeks, he is at the stage that some children are at by six months, so that is really, very encouraging for us.
“We are very pleased by the outcome of the operation. Reece can’t wait to be able to walk home from school by himself.
“It has been a draining process for him and there is a long way to go, but we are thrilled at his progress and excited for what the future holds.
“We would like to thank all our family, friends and businesses for helping us to fundraise for Reece. We have had some donations from anonymous donators, so we hope they can see Reece’s progress and see how thankful we are to them,” she added.
For any further details on the fund-raising campaign, visit Reece’s Facebook page at ‘Reecesgoal’ or his JustGiving site at justgiving.com/ReecesGoal.