A NINE-YEAR-OLD boy with cerebral palsy is set to tackle a charity triathlon – despite only learning to walk two years ago.
Jack Lawrence, from Filey, was confined to a wheelchair until he flew to America in December 2009 for a “life changing” operation.
The procedure, called selective dorsal rhizotomy, is the same one needed by 11-year-old Scarborough girl India Robertson, and kind-hearted Jack said he wants to complete the triathlon to “raise money to help her.”
His story will send hope to the thousands of people afflicted by the cruel disease, and proud mum Debbie said: “Ever since his operation, anytime he spots anybody else with the condition, he will go running up to them, desperate to tell them what happened to him and how they can get better.”
For the triathlon, Jack will run, swim and cycle through his home town next month.
It’s an incredible feat that his parents Debbie and Chris could only dream about when he was unable to walk unaided.
Debbie recalls the first time they realised just how far he had come following his surgery.
She said: “It was the school sports day.
“Jack had never told anybody he was going to do it, but he lined up for a race and just started running.
“Everybody there was just crying.”
Jack’s proud dad Chris will race alongside him to help raise money towards the £60,000 needed for India’s procedure, which will hopefully allow her to walk by herself.
Debbie said that he will cycle and run for about a mile before heading to The Bay to do lengths at the pool.
She said they hope to raise “three or four hundred pound”, adding: “He might only manage two lengths of the pool, and it might not seem like that much – but for us and for him, it’s amazing.
“We are so proud of him,”
For Chris, not only does he get to help a cause close to his heart, but he also gets to enjoy some of the simple pleasures in life - like riding a bike with Jack - that only a few years ago he was unable to share with his son.
Chris added: “It might be a cliche to say it, but to see him run, it’s a dream come true. That’s all you can say about it.
“He’s become a little miracle and it’s changed our lives, but even more so, it’s changed his.”
Speaking of his operation, Jack said he was “nervous and excited” before the procedure, which his parents admit wasn’t cheap.
Chris said: “Jack’s operation cost us £50,000 and we had to fundraise, but we were lucky as Jack’s grandmother paid a large part of it, but until recently it was unheard of in this country.
“In America, there’s been about 1,900 people who have had the procedure - Jack was only the third person in Britain to have it.”
He added that British doctors believed it to be “too invasive”, recommending an alternative treatment which included botox injections.
However, after a recent change of heart, the procedure could soon be carried out in Leeds - meaning fundraising for people like India, and Jack, may soon be a thing of the past.
To sponsor Jack, please call (01723) 514750.