WHILE many seven-year-olds dream of becoming pop stars or professional footballers when they’re older, Jack Phillips’s only wish is that one day he will be able to walk.

Determined to give him all the help they can, his parents are now embarking on a £50,000 fundraising campaign they’re calling ‘Jack’s Dream’.

The cash – which they’re aiming to raise by the summer holidays – would pay for a life-changing operation in the USA that they hope will enable the Southampton schoolboy to take his first steps.

Born 12 weeks premature, Jack, pictured below, weighed just 2lbs 7oz and was starved of oxygen at birth causing brain damage which resulted in a condition called Diplegic Cerebral Palsy.

While Jack was mentally unharmed, it meant he wasn’t able to use the muscles in his legs.

Today he can only get around independently with the use of a walking frame, and he crawls when he is at home.

A pupil at Tanners Brook Infant, as Jack gets older he is becoming increasingly aware that he is not the same as his friends.

“Just recently he has started to get down about it and he has started asking why him?” says Jack’s dad, Martin Phillips, 39. “He says things like, ‘I wish I could be like my friends’ and ‘I’m bored of crawling’. We try to focus on the positive things in his life but it is hard.”

His disability is also being increasingly highlighted as his two-year-old brother Harvey – who started walking several months ago – continues to make progress.

“Harvey can go out in the garden and run around, and Jack just wishes he could do it too,”

says mum Sarah Phillips, 34.

But the family also believes that it was being around Harvey that spurred Jack on to stand up for the first time 18 months ago.

Leaning against a chair, he stood up for around 30 seconds and has managed to do it regularly ever since.

The development was made possible by the regular Botox injections that Jack has received for the last two years, to increase his muscle tone.

He has to be given the injections under general anaesthetic because he finds them painful.

The operation that his family hope could transform Jack’s life is called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR).

It is a major procedure which involves cutting some of the sensory nerves in the lower spinal column.

This can reduce muscle stiffness in the legs, as well as cramps and spasms.

Following the operation, children require extensive physiotherapy, lasting three to nine months.

The leading surgeon in the field is based at St.

Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri – and this is who will perform Jack’s operation.

A number of British children have flown out to the hospital in recent years to undergo the procedure with great success.

One of them was Megan Vernon from Bishopstoke, who had the operation in late-2010 following a £40,000 fundraising effort ‘Megan’s Quest’ which was launched in the Daily Echo.

In fact it was only seeing a different little girl who was going to have the operation on the local TV news that led to the Phillips discovering the operation.

“When we saw it on the local news, we thought we have nothing to lose,” says Amy Potter, Jack’s second cousin and godmother, and now the chief fundraiser.

While the family can’t be certain that the operation will definitely enable Jack to walk, they would be grateful for any improvement in his condition.

“Even if Jack just ends up more confident with walking sticks that would be good for him because he could go up and down steps more easily,” says Sarah.

“We’re trying not to get our hopes up too much but we’re very excited.”

In order for the hospital to decide whether or not Jack was a suitable candidate for the operation, his parents took a lot of video footage of him and sent it along with his X-rays to the States.

After finding out that Jack was indeed eligible for it in February, they are now hoping to raise their £50,000 target in the next few months so that Jack can undergo the procedure this summer and doesn’t miss any school.

It is a huge undertaking for Martin, who gave up his job to become Jack’s full-time carer, and Sarah, who works as a pharmacy assistant at Southampton General Hospital.

One of the first fundraising events was a charity walk last weekend around Southampton Common.

Pupils at Tanners Brook Infants and Juniors have already raised over £1,200 by holding a non-uniform day, and the campaign has received an anonymous £1,000 donation.

For more information or to find out how to donate,visit jacksdream.com