Helping charity

A LURGAN woman has joined a charity push to help a young County Down boy get back on his feet.

Gillian Walker, who lives in Castle Lane, has put her weight behind a fundraising campaign to raise money for three-year-old Billy Douglas.

All money raised will go towards sending Billy to America for an operation to help him walk unaided.

Billy, who is from Comber, was born with Spastic Diplegia - a form of cerebral palsy.

The fundraisers need to raise £50,000 for Billy to have the life-changing operation at St Louis Children’s Hospital.

The operation is called Selective Dosal Rhizotomy (SDR) and it will enable Billy to walk unaided and stop him from being in a wheelchair for his adult life.

Gillian said: “I read about Billy on Facebook and wanted to help.

“Billy was born not breathing and got brain damage which caused the spastic diplegia.

“I was touched by his story so I contacted the group and offered to arrange events in the Lurgan area to help with fundraising.

“We don’t have much time because Billy needs the operation before he’s four.”

Statistics show spasticity affects 80% of people with cerebral palsy and causes many problems for sufferers of the disorder.

In growing children, muscle stiffness inhibits the longitudinal growth of the muscle. This is especially bad because it causes orthopedic deformities and muscle contractures, where the muscle locks into place permanently.

Spastic symptoms of cerebral palsy are usually treated with a combination of drugs, physical therapy, braces, and if needed, orthopedic surgery.

However, a relatively new surgery is being performed called selected dorsal rhizotomy (SDR.) The surgery works best on young children, from two to four years of age.

Gillian has organised a music night in the Premier this Saturday followed by a fancy dress party in the same venue the following week.

There’s also further fundraising nights planned for November and December. To keep up to date with events search for ‘Help Billy Walk’ on Facebook.

Gillian said: “After the appeal is finished, we aim to provide a charity that helps children and their families in Northern Ireland whom suffer from cerebral palsy to enjoy local family breaks.”