A HUGE fundraising drive has been launched to help a little Hampshire boy take his first steps.
Oliver Osborne was born 11 weeks premature, weighed 2lb 12oz and spent his first seven weeks in hospital.
Just three months after his first birthday doctors said he would never walk and diagnosed him with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
Now the three-year-old from Titchfield is hoping to start packing his bags for America where he will get a life-changing operation that will help him take his first steps.
But his parents Sallyanne, 39, and Terry, 37, need to raise £100,000 to cover the cost of the surgery and the daily physiotherapy, hydro-therapy and personal training.
The family have already raised £60,000 thanks to fundraising events and donations from friends, family and Virgin Atlantic, where both Sallyanne and Terry work as on-board managers.
When they have raised enough, Sallyanne, Terry, daughter Millie, five, and Oliver will fly to St Lewis in Missouri, USA where Oliver will have the procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy, which is not funded by the NHS.
It will treat his increased muscle tone (spasticity) in the lower limbs.
Oliver has already begun physiotherapy in preparation for his operation and just two months ago he began to move around using a walking frame.
Sallyanne said: “All Millie wants is for him to be able to play with her.
“She had been saving all of her pocket money for an Elsa dress from Frozen, but when he walked in his walker for the first time a couple of months ago she was so proud of him she bought him a Jessie doll from Toy Story.
“The operation would make a complete difference to his life because he will be able to walk eventually, with a lot of hard work.
“It wouldn’t just make a difference to him – it would make a difference to our whole family.
“He would be able to play with other children that he can’t play with at the moment. All he wants to do is play with other children.
“He’s so cheeky and smiley and happy and everyone that meets him just falls in love with him.
“Everyone just adores him be-cause he’s funny and so determined as well.
“He really is one of the most determined children you could ever meet.”
The youngster will need physiotherapy until he’s at least a teenager – costing £25,000 a year.
To help with their fundraising, the family will be holding a black-tie charity ball at St Mary’s Stadium, hosted by Hampshire comedian Jim Davidson from 7pm on July 5.
The event will include entertainment from musician, comedian and actor Kev Orkian and an auction with prizes including the last Cheers script cover signed by the entire cast.
Tickets are £65 per person or £600 for a table of ten.
n For more information, to donate visit footsteps4oliver.co.uk.
For tickets to the ball email Lynsey at footsteps4oliver @gmail.com or call the Osborne family on 01489 583554.