A LONG-AWAITED dream for seven-year-old Brooke Lawrance is starting to become a reality today.

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Nearly a fortnight ago the youngster, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby and has to use a wheelchair, underwent a life-changing operation in America.

Just days after the pioneering selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, she took her first tentative steps towards walking on her own two feet.

Her proud mum Sarah Lawrance, of Morland Road, Ipswich, said: “The operation went really well.

“Brooke is already doing things that she couldn’t do before the surgery like side-stepping, walking up steps assisted and her walking is so much better.

“She has an hour of physio at hospital and an hour a day at home with some stretches to improve her mobility.

“There’s a long way to go but she’s getting there.”

Determined Brooke spent her seventh birthday in a hospital bed but received dozens of birthday cards and presents from loved ones back home.

She also enjoyed Skype and video messaging with her family and friends to keep her spirits up.

Brooke’s journey

October 2011 - The Lawrance family launches the fundraising campaign

February 2012 - Mayor of Ipswich officially launches Brooke’s Wish To Walk appeal

May 2012 - Brooke is rejected from having the operation at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital

September 2012 - Date is set for life-changing operation in America

November 2012 - Brooke has the pioneering surgery

The whole Lawrance family, including dad Peter, sisters Nadine and Neve and brother Samuel, travelled to America earlier this month before Brooke had the operation on November 15.

Although Brooke has been discharged from hospital, she will have to return on Tuesday for her second operation.

The brave youngster will undergo an orthopaedic operation on both her heel cords to achieve the best possible outcome of the main surgery.

The family, who has been fundraising for the £70,000 needed for the surgery since October last year, will be spending a total of five weeks in America while Brooke recovers from her treatment.

Mr Lawrance said: “All being well we should fly home on December 15 and the hope is to enjoy a big family Christmas together.”

The generosity of family, friends and complete strangers made Brooke’s dream come true by raising more than £62,000.

Another £3,000 is needed before Town 102FM donate the final £5,000.

Upcoming fundraisers include a team climbing Mount Everest and Ipswich Greyfriars Round Table’s annual Santa and Rudolph float will be travelling around Ipswich next month in aid of the appeal.

The family was left heartbroken earlier in the year after a businessman vanished having promised to help raise money for the appeal.

As revealed in The Star in October, a car finance executive from Scotland offered to arrange rides in supercars as auction prizes, but disappeared shortly after the successful bidders were due to collect their prizes.

Visit www.justgiving.com/brookeswishtowalk to donate.

n Send your messages of support for Brooke to Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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