Mum won't let Cooper's paralysis stop him from going for a bike ride

Cooper Leatherby, aged 4, suffers from spina bifida and dreams of owning a specialist trike. Picture

Cooper Leatherby, aged four, suffers from spina bifida and dreams of owning a specialist trike. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Cooper is paralysed in both his feet and ankles — but mum Sarah Leatherby wants her four-year-old son to have as normal a life as possible. 

The NHS 111 worker is now leading a fundraiser to help buy the Ipswich youngster a trike, so he can enjoy bike rides with the rest of his family.

The four-year-old — who has spina bifida, which leads to defects in the spinal cord and bones of the spine — currently uses a wheelchair and splints to get out and about.

However, he is not able to use a bike in the normal way and needs a specially adapted ride. 

The family of Cooper Leatherby, who suffers from spina bifida, are fundraising for a specialist trik

The family of Cooper Leatherby, who suffers from spina bifida, are fundraising for a specialist trike for him. L-R Luke, Conner, Cooper, Hollie and Sarah Leatherby. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

As well as ensuring Cooper — who is due to attend Morland C of E Primary School in September — can enjoy the great outdoors, his mum says: "The trike will help [Cooper's] core control and strengthen his muscles."

Cooper Leatherby, aged 4, suffers from spina bifida and dreams of owning a specialist trike. Picture

Cooper Leatherby, aged four, suffers from spina bifida and dreams of owning a specialist trike. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The family cannot afford the trike themselves, as they are managing a new arrival — three-month-old Ava — who also has health issues and needs to attend regular hospital appointments. 

"Lately it is eating up our finances, parking costs," she said. "I just take day by day.

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"You'll look at us and we look like a normal family. We're smiling all the time."

Along with this, the mum-of-four cannot look to her family for help as her dad battles cancer. 

Mrs Leatherby is grateful to Cooper's nursery, Play Out, for undergoing training and adapting to help him. 

"They've been amazing," she said, while adding that their support will enable Cooper to attend a mainstream school.

Cooper with his siblings Conner and Hollie. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Cooper with his siblings Conner and Hollie. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"He is such a capable, happy boy," Mrs Leatherby said. "He always tries to keep up with [the other children]."

She also hopes to raise awareness of spina bifida.

Cooper Leatherby, aged 4, suffers from spina bifida and dreams of owning a specialist trike. Picture

His mum Sarah says Cooper Leatherby is such a "happy boy". - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"Everyone's affected differently by it," she added, with Cooper suffering from myelomeningocele — the most severe type. He was born with his spinal canal open which meant his spinal cord and protective membranes around it created a sac, which burst, and was later fixed with surgery.

The other types include meningocele and occulta. "Some people can have it and won't know until they have a scan," she added. 

To donate, visit uk.gofundme.com/f/help-raise-funds-for-a-therapy-trike-for-cooper

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