George is a very special member of my family, the 4-year-0ld son of a nephew. When he was 3 days old a MRI Scan revealed George had suffered a major brain haemorrhage before birth. Doctors said he would never walk, never talk and have severe disabilities including but not limited to cerebral palsy, epilepsy and possible vision problems. We were also told that he would never know his parents or understand the world or have a normal life. As you can imagine, that was the day life stopped for his parents. What makes this all the poignant for my family is the heartbreaking family history in the years before his birth, something not discussed here. But George has proved those doctors wrong.
With courage and determination, the constant therapy and hospital visits have eased the stiffness in his limbs caused by cerebral palsy, his left arm and right leg being most affected. To everyone’s delight he can see, he recognises his parents and the rest of his family, he can speak words, learning more and more all the time, and do new things, things we never believed would be possible. What is all the more remarkable is that his is always smiling. His laugh is infectious, his smile so captivating you want to hug him to bits. And, although painful for him, he wants to walk, he tries constantly, pulling himself upright wherever he can. He’s come a long way since those first dark days following his entry into the world. We are so proud of all he has achieved.
No small part in this achievement has been the wonderful help and therapy provided by The Footsteps Foundation, a marvellous centre in Warborough, Oxfordshire that helps people such as George using a harness contraption known as a Spider. George thinks it’s wildly funny and laughs all the time he’s strapped into it. But the sessions at Footsteps don’t come cheap. There is no government funding for this. All his therapy there has to be paid for by his parents.
Although something never openly discussed and agreed, my family and many family friends decided we would help George and his young parents as much as possible by raising funds to finance the much-needed therapy sessions.
Walk For George began in May 2009 with a sponsored walk around Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park. Unfortunately I was not able to take part so instead auctioned on of my paintings and donated the the three-figure sum raised.
Last year I did the walk. It was a beautiful hot Sunday in May, the bluebells and rhododendrons out in full glory. (A few photographs are included below. I hope you enjoy them.) My 84 year old mother and I might have been the last ones to complete the 4 mile route but complete it we did, flopping down exhausted but happy to join in the picnic and watch the youngsters enjoy a game of football. A fabulous day out enjoyed by young and old. Where do children get all that energy?
Walk For George 2011 takes place this year on 26 June, at Virginia Water Lake. I shall be taking part again, although mother has declined she’s happy to watch over bags and the food and the little ones.
If you would like to sponsor me or perhaps make a donation to the cause, George and his parents, and myself, would be exceedingly grateful.
I make no apology for writing about this event. There are times when I truly wish I had a magic wand and could make it all better, not just for George, but for all children who live with this debilitating condition.