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Lily's deam to walk gets ever closer; Five-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer gets surgery date.

Byline: SARAH SCOTT

LILY Gordon's dream of taking her crucial first steps is even closer to becoming a reality as doctors in America have now set a date for her surgery.

Five-year-old Lily will fly to the USA in August for the costly lifechanging surgery for which her family must raise pounds 50,000.

But thanks to the help of Chronicle readers, Lily's family have reached the pounds 15,000 mark in their bid to change Lily's life forever.

The pupil of Star of the Sea RC Primary, in Whitley Bay, suffers from a crippling form of cerebral palsy which means she has never been able to take her first steps.

But parents Joanne and David, of Whitley Bay, have pinned their hopes on the breakthrough surgery at The Children's Hospital, St Louis, in Missouri, which is not available in the UK.

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), has become an extremely popular procedure choice for families whose children suffer from a similar condition to Lily and in the past year, around 60 children from the UK have travelled for surgery.

"We were delighted when we got the email last week asking us to chose our three preferred dates," said 38-year-old Joanne.

"It was a bit scary, but what I notice every time we go on the Facebook site is that more and more families are being accepted.

"It is getting more and more popular, and if we didn't book in we may not get it," added the finance and commercial manager.

Lily will attend the Children's Hospital in St Louis to meet the team and have her first consultation with Dr T S Park on Monday, August 15. This will be followed by a physical therapy evaluation. Lily's SDR surgery is then scheduled for Tuesday, August 16.

"Lily is still very excited about it all, and seeing her name in the paper makes her feel like a little star.

"She is taking everything in her stride and she is looking forward to it," said the mam-of-two.

Lily, her parents and her sister Katie will have to stay in America for four weeks, as there are numerous follow-up appointments and physiotherapy sessions after the initial surgery. It will be a long road for Lily, and she will not be able to take her first steps straight away From Monday, August 22, Lily will start her one-hour sessions of daily physiotherapy. On Wednesday, August 24, the family have an appointment with Dr Dobbs to assess whether Lily needs to have a tendon-lengthening procedure. If she does, this will take place on Tuesday, August 30.

The family hope to return home to Whitley Bay on Saturday, September 10, or Sunday, September 11.

The fundraising effort for Lily is set to kick into full gear from now with events organised every weekend.

There are fundraising nights, abseils, walks and family and friends taking part in marathons and fun runs to help raise money.

"Loads of people want to do things for her. It's not so long ago I was thinking we would get to a certain amount and it would stop, but I am very positive now," said Joanne.

The first big event this weekend is Bobby Pattinson's show at Newcastle City Hall on Sunday.

The North East comedian was so touched by Lily's plight he pledged to donate pounds 1,000 from each of his upcoming five shows.

Lily has support from all over the country, but especially from her friends at school, one even asked for donations to be made to Lily's fund instead of receiving birthday presents.

To find out more visit www.helplily2stlouis.co.uk

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HOPES AND DREAMS Joanne Gordon with her daughter Lily
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2011
Words:615
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