FOR any parent, a child’s first steps are a special moment but for six-year-old Sam Deakin-Mant, it was a long time coming.
Sam, who goes to Court Lane Primary School, in Cosham, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 10 months old.
The illness caused his legs to tighten, stopping him from walking and even standing.
So, his family looked in to possible treatments and found a world-renowned specialist in America.
But just weeks after a £40,000 operation in St Louis, America, Sam is walking with the use of his walking frame.
He said: ‘It was always in my head but my legs just couldn’t do it.
‘The hospital was a long long way but I liked it. It is mad and my legs feel so soft.’
His parents, Paul and Lisa, are over the moon.
Lisa said: ‘It is great that Sam can finally walk with the help of his walking frame.
‘Obviously he is not running around like most children but with me supporting his hips a bit and him holding himself up, he can take some steps.
‘Before the surgery in America, he couldn’t even stand because his legs were too tight and the spasticity was too much.
‘But the operation has changed all that.’
Sam and his family spent five weeks in America with them returning home just three weeks after his operation.
Now back at home, Sam, from Cosham, faces a summer of physiotherapy and exercise.
Lisa added: ‘The operation was just the first step.
‘We now have to take him to physiotherapy sessions a couple times a week and stretch his legs twice a day.
‘We will also be investing in a bike along with other exercise machines which will all help strengthen his muscles.
‘The operation just got rid of his spasticity.
‘He now has to make his muscles stronger because they haven’t had to support him for six years.’
Lisa and Paul have arranged for more fundraisers now they are home to help pay for his future treatment.
They got a lot of support from The News readers who rallied together to help pay towards his operation.
But, with physiotherapy sessions at £60 an hour and machines costing up to £2,000, they still have a long way to go.
Lisa said: ‘We want to thank everyone who helped us fundraise for Sam’s operation.
‘But we have a few more things planned with all the money going towards Sam’s charity, Samuel’s Fund.’
To make a donation visit samuelsfund.org.uk