THE PARENTS of a two-year-old toddler have launched a campaign to raise £85,000 to pay for a life-changing operation to help him to walk.
Little Oliver Hitchings was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy just before his first birthday.
The condition affects his balance and co-ordination and he is not yet able to stand or walk independently.
Devoted parents Cheryl Carr (33) and Michael Hitchings (35) have now launched the campaign to pay for the specialist operation, which is not available on the NHS.
Cheryl said: "Oliver was born nine weeks premature and diagnosed with cerebral palsy just over a year ago.
"The condition increases the muscle tone in his legs and feet which makes them constantly stiff.
"It affects his balance and co-ordination and even simple things like crawling are incredibly difficult for him."
The family, of Cherry Tree Crescent, Wickersley, hope to raise enough money for Oliver to have selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) treatment.
The surgery involves cutting some of the damaged sensory nerve fibres, which are causing muscle spasticity or stiffness.
Followed by up to five years of intense physiotherapy, the family's dream is that it will eventually enable him to walk.
Cheryl said: "Oliver is really coming on cognitively. He has a very strong character and is really determined.
"It's heartbreaking seeing him struggle with basic tasks that other toddlers can do.
"One of the hardest parts was during the recent hot weather. His older brother Benjamin (4) was running around the garden but Oliver couldn't join in."
Cheryl and Michael only launched the campaign - named Operation Oli - last week after Oli's uncle Mark Hitchings signed up for a sponsored bungee jump.
Benjamin's class mates at Northfield Primary School have also arranged events to raise cash and there will be a fun day at the Brush and Easel pub on June 18 from 2pm until 8pm.
Cheryl added: "The campaign has really taken off. We have already raised £1,000 in just a week - it's just snowballed.
"It would mean absolutely everything for him to be able to have the operation. It would be life-changing and give him the ability to do the same as other toddlers."
Cheryl said the operation itself would cost around £35,000 but Oliver would require five years of aftercare and intense physiotherapy - at a cost of around £100 per hour.
Oli is already having private monthly physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions to help build his core muscles. He also rides horses regularly to help gain strength.
For more information on the fund-raising campaign or to donate search Operation Oli on Facebook or visit https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/just4children/operationoli.
People can also donate by texting OLIS98 followed by the amount they want to donate to 70070.