AFTER overcoming one hurdle, the Jeakins family is faced with another as they try to raise £15,000 to fund extensive physiotherapy for son Tommie, who has cerebral palsy.
Last year parents Jodie Jeakins and Luke Darbon were stunned when doctors told them Tommie’s life-altering surgery had a £25,000 price-tag.
The five-year-old could only walk up to 20 steps and suffered painful muscle spasms that sometimes lasted hours.
An SDR operation was his biggest chance of being able to walk.
It became a community-wide effort as friends, family and his school launched a series of fundraisers.
After a successful five-hour operation last December, Tommie, of Jaywick, is now undergoing a two-year rehabilitation programme.
He needs up to three private sessions a week at £75 each, plus an additional hour spent in a specialised mollii suit at £125 as part of his rehab.
The NHS can only fund up to two physio sessions a month.
Jodie, 23, said: “As a family we’ve been let down, but all I can do as a mum is keep fighting and do whatever it takes to get the funds Tommie needs.
"I’ll do all I can to give him independence and the life everyone wrote him off having.
“Just before Christmas a cheque came through from the Essex boys’ fishing team and a group of ladies did a mud run for us, so in total we received £5,000.
“We’ve been using this for physiotherapy since Tommie left hospital, but it’s running out quite quickly so we want to get the ball rolling.
“Initially we had no idea how we’d raise £25,000 for the first operation, and within 12 months.
"Little did we know we’d raise it by August and then have Tommie booked in for November.
“We can’t thank everyone enough for giving him a chance of a normal life.”
"Brave" - Tommie Jeakins
Tommie’s school pals at Sir Martin Frobisher have already got to work, organising a strategy afternoon for 22 pupils from REAch2 academies across the region.
School ambassadors spent a day sharing fundraising ideas for Tommie and have until the end of the year to deliver their pledges.
Frobisher has already raised more than £1,000 for Tommie to-date.
Jodie said: “It’s exciting for them because it gives the children some control and they feel included.”
But between physiotherapy in Colchester, school, and hospital appointments at Great Ormond Street, the parents have not yet created a family plan of action.
Tommie’s parents are still amazed by the success of his operation, which saw his spine fractured to treat muscle spasticity, and the fact he can now stand by himself.
Jade cannot believe the difference in Tommie – and how tall he is.
“He’s like a different kid,” she said.
“When he first stood up unaided, he was just so happy he couldn’t focus and because he got so excited, he had a little topple.”
She added: “For the first three days after the operation he was laid flat on his back.
"Since then his muscle spasticity has calmed down a lot. He can be a bit stiff in the mornings but is in nowhere near as much pain as he used to be.
“The second hurdle is for Tommie to relearn to walk and take steps when he’s ready.”
To follow Tommie’s progress click here.