An appeal to raise £38,000 to help a three-year-old Blackpool boy walk unaided for the first time has been boosted by support from a community group .
Little Joe Knowles has cerebral palsy but his family was told an operation on his legs could change his life forever.
His parents, Mike and Sue, set up the Joe’s Dream to Walk appeal last year in the hope of raising the £38,000 needed to fund the procedure in America, which is not available on the NHS.
The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy procedure, would involve a surgeon cutting around two thirds of the nerves leading to Joe’s legs, preventing them causing the stiffness that keeps him from walking without support.
Now, after reading about his story in The Gazette, members of the Lighthouse Spiritualist Centre have nominated the appeal as their charity of the year.
The group, which meets in Bispham, is planning a fund-raising event next month to support the family – but is hoping members of the community will help by donating items they can raffle off.
Lighthouse member Shirley Mason, of Warley Road, North Shore, said: “We have been collecting for the last three weeks but we are in desperate need of stuff to sell.
“I got so involved in this because I have a son, who is 21 now, who needed the same operation 20 years ago and we feel a sense of empathy with the family.”
The group is holding its fund-raising event at its Bispham centre, on Stronsay Place, on February 1 at 2pm.
It is planning a tabletop sale, raffle and tombola , with refreshments including cakes on sale.
Proceeds from the event will be donated directly to the Joe’s Dream to Walk appeal.
Mrs Mason added: “We have got a few shops around town that are going to do some cup cakes for us but we do need more stuff.
“Any jumble that isn’t sellable we have just been taking to weigh-in shops that pay us for it.”
Joe’s dad, Mike Knowles, of Davenport Avenue, Bispham, said he was delighted to be getting the group’s support.
He said: “We have been in touch with the Lighthouse Centre. They seem a group of really genuine people - and hard workers. We can’t thank them enough.”
For more details of the appeal and to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/joesdreamtowalk