Leo kicks off his new life
Courtesy of The Evening Telegraph
LESS then seven months ago, Peterborough youngster Leo Waites was unable to move just a few steps without his walking aids.
But now, the smiling schoolboy is kicking and jumping for joy in his smart new taekwondo suit after taking on his first sporting hobby after life-changing surgery.
The five-year-old, of Cook Avenue, in Hempstead, Peterborough, has now joined dozens of other youngsters of his age at Evolution TaeKwonDo, in Wainman Road, Orton Longueville, Peterborough.
It completes a remarkable turnaround for the Matley Primary School pupil, who underwent a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) at St Louis Children’s Hospital, in Missouri, in USA, in December.
Before the operation, Leo, who suffers from spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, could not walk unaided and spent much of his young life confined to a wheelchair due to weakness in his legs.
His mother Joanne (24), who set up the Help Leo to Walk campaign with The Evening Telegraph last July to raise £45,000 to pay for the surgery in the USA, is celebrating a dream she never thought would come true for her son.
She also said: “Watching him in his first session doing taekwondo last week was the proudest moment of my life.
“His face was such a picture. He was so excited.
“I just wanted to know if he could do it or not.
“I sat there watching him and after the 45 minutes I couldn’t keep up with him.
“He was doing all the kicks and all the noises.
“It’s one milestone which I never thought I’d see. It’s amazing and he’s so happy.”
Carl Smith, who works at Evolution TaeKwonDo, is delighted to have Leo onboard.
He said: “We didn’t do anything different with him to how we would treat the other youngsters who come along here, except we kept a bit more of an eye on him.
“The look on his face was fantastic when he was doing it. He was smiling all the time.”
Joanne is also delighted to hear that fellow city mum Karen Newton has had her son Tyler Maxwell (3) accepted for the same procedure that has changed Leo’s life.
As revealed by The Evening Telegraph on Friday, Karen is launching her own campaign to raise thousands of pounds to pay for the surgery.
Joanne, who met up with Karen and young Tyler last month, said: “I’m delighted for her. Tyler is the same as Leo was a few years ago.
“It’s really nice to know someone else has seen what we’ve done and has decided to do the same thing. I’m so happy they are going for it.”