RAWTENSTALL youngster Theo Bishop has had a year to remember after being able to walk flat-footed for the first time.
A year ago the nine-year-old, from Fallbarn Crescent, and his parents, Mandy and Stuart, were still trying to raise the £45,000 needed to fly Theo to America for life-changing surgery.
Now the brave Balladen Primary School pupil, who suffers from cerebral palsy, can finally walk without a frame and is back in the playground with his friends.
Mandy, 40, said the procedure Theo underwent in Missouri in July and August, Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, had resulted in a massive confidence boost for the sports-mad youngster.
She said: “He’s back in school full-time, not because he has to be, but because he wants to be. We didn’t want to rush him back, but he’s doing really well and all his friends are delighted that he can play with them now.
“There is still a long way to go, with lots of intense physio for the next two years. Sometimes he’s shattered at the end of it.”
Theo has recently taken up table-tennis at Hyndburn Leisure Centre, and Mandy said coaches there believe he has serious potential.
She said: “They were talking about him maybe being good enough for the Paralympics in years to come. He’s also going to a chess club and is back at Cubs.
“Everyone who meets him congratulates him. One stranger at a school party came up to him and said, ‘You’re my hero’.”
Theo will go back to America for a review in the summer and will send a video to doctors there in February to keep them updated on his progress.
He eventually hopes to be able learn to cycle.
Theo said: “I’m really happy that I can walk now. I love football, table-tennis and I’ve played volleyball for the first time. It’s really cool and makes me proud when people say hello in the street.”
• Theo’s family continues to raise funds for the physiotherapy Theo requires for the rest of his life. Donations can be made at www.theosbigleap.org.uk