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Battling Leeds youngster near £45,000 target

posted Oct 10, 2010 15:51:43 by crazie537
Battling cerebral palsy sufferer Ben Smithson is hoping to fulfil his dream of playing football as fund-raisers kick on towards their final goal.
Keen Liverpool fan Ben is currently confined to a wheelchair and unable to play soccer with his pals at All Saints Primary School in Ilkley, where he lives.
But friends and family have almost reached their £45,000 target to pay for surgery in the US which could transform the nine-year-old's life.
The pioneering procedure, which is currently not widely available in the UK, involves cutting nerves that come from the muscles and send "wrong messages" to the spinal cord – reducing mobility for cerebral palsy sufferers.
A date has already been set for the life-changing operation at the St Louis Children's Hospital, Missouri.
And Ben's parents, Charlotte and Damian Smithson, are absolutely thrilled at the prospect.
Charlotte said: "Four months ago we did not know whether this was possible and we were not particularly optimistic as it is a lot of money to raise.
"But here we are, a few months later, having almost reached our goal and that's wonderful. The local community has been just amazing and I just can't thank them enough."
January 6, 2011 is the date set for the operation and the family will be flying out to the US on New Year's Day.
Fund-raisers need just £10,000 more to reach their target and they are even hoping to raise a little bit extra so that Ben can have additional corrective surgery to his heels and hamstrings and increase his chances of shining on the football field.
Charlotte, who is also mum to six-year-old Jacob, said: "At the moment Ben is reliant on a wheelchair and a walking-frame but we want him to have as normal a life as possible and be one of the gang. This surgery is his best chance of being able to do that."
The next fund-raising event is a five-mile road race by Ilkley Harriers on Sunday, November 7.
It is open to men and women, with five different age categories from 20 to 60-plus. The closing date for entries is Sunday, October 31.
A send-off celebration for Ben is also being planned in Ilkley for December.
Anyone wishing to help Ben's campaign can find out more on

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