A BRAVE toddler who has spent his life confined to a wheelchair has been given fresh hope that he might one day walk.
The parents of five-year-old Dylan Walsh say they are now on course to raise the €60,000 needed to fund a potentially life-changing operation for their son.
Dylan, originally from Wicklow town, suffers from a rare case of cerebral palsy and has spent his life in a wheelchair.
He is unable to stand on his own, and needs a kaye-walker to get around.
His parents Gerard and Maria have fundraised tirelessly over the past five weeks and told the Herald today that they believe Dylan will finally realise his "dream" and learn to walk.
"We've raised about €45,000, so we have a bit to go until the operation in the summer, but we believe we will get there," Gerald Walsh told the Herald.
"The generosity of people has just been astounding. It would reduce to tears. Even young children and Dylan's classmates have donated their pocket money.
"He's had a very tough life. Even simple things like going to the toilet -- he can't do on his own. It would be life- changing for him if the operation goes as planned, which we desperately hope it will."
Dylan's family hope to fly him to the US in either June or July, where he has already been accepted for the crucial operation.
The €60,000 raised will cover the cost of Selective Dosal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery as well as muscle-lengthening surgeries and intensive post-operation physiotherapy.
However, Gerard added that although the operation is crucial to ensure Dylan can finally walk independently, there is a long road ahead.
"Dylan will have to undergo intensive work when he comes back from America, so there will be tough times ahead. He'll be forced to build up muscles that he has never used before which will be very intensive for him.
"Soon, we hope Dylan will be running around the garden doing things he's always dreamed of. We're very excited about his future."
Anyone who wants to find out more or who wants to donate, can log on to www.dylansdreamtowalk.ie.