Saturday 3 December 2016

I just want to dance, says brave Casey (5)

Elaine Keogh

Published 16/06/2011 | 05:00

Casey Fitzgerald (5)
relies on a walking
frame and wheelchair
Casey Fitzgerald (5) relies on a walking frame and wheelchair

Little Casey Fitzgerald dreams that one day she will dance just like her school friends.

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But the five-year-old Cavan schoolgirl, who suffers from cerebral palsy, relies on a special walking frame and a wheelchair when walking longer distances.

Now family and friends have launched a campaign to raise €30,000 to cover the cost of life-changing surgery in Britain next January in the hope that Casey's dream to dance with her friends can come true.

Her mum Tracey and dad Noel say their daughter doesn't allow her condition to hold her back.

The little girl loves to dance but her condition -- which has left her with restricted movement caused by muscular problems -- means she falls over.

"The operation will improve her balance by 50pc and will mean she won't need her wheelchair," said her mum.

Casey was diagnosed with spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, as a toddler.

"We knew there was a problem because she never rolled over as a baby and she couldn't sit up at 17 months old," explained Tracey.

"She cannot do simple things we take for granted, such as jumping or kicking a ball," she added.

Today is sports day for Casey's junior infants class in Mullagh, Co Cavan, and "she asked me will she win a medal and I told her 'you will because I will carry you!'" said her proud mother.

Casey has already been assessed by the Frenchay hospital in Bristol and accepted as a suitable candidate for surgery.

The operation, called selective dorsal rhizotomy, will help to straighten Casey's legs. After two years of intensive post-operative physiotherapy, Casey should be able to ride a bike and walk without her frame.

As well as dancing, she wants to be able to race against her brothers Jamie (12) and Josh (7).

"When I get my legs fixed I can beat my brother in a race," she said.

"We want the operation to give her the chance in life she deserves," said Tracey. "I will have to leave my other children behind for a month so I can go to Bristol with her. My husband will have to take a month off work to mind the children but we are all determined to do this for her."

Casey's older sisters Becky (17) and Chloe (13) are also cheering for their sibling and the family has been taken aback at the support they are receiving.

Their Facebook page 'Casey's Dream Appeal' can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/5wpeutn

Irish Independent

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