A schoolboy whose family was told he would never walk is marking a year since an operation helped him take his first firm steps.
Derek Russell struggled to walk after being born with cerebral palsy.
Now the four-year-old from Barmston, Washington, is tackling climbing walls, scaling hills on family days out and even pedaling away on his first bike after surgery paid for thanks to generous donors can carried out in the US was a success.
To celebrate the milestone 12 months on, his family have thrown a party to thank friends, family and supporters who helped raise more than £30,000 to cover the cost of the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) procedure.
Mum Michelle, 36, said: “He’s come so far from the op itself.
“He’s just started riding his bike, and that was a milestone because we didn’t think he would ever get on a bike, which has had to be adapted for him and he rides it to school on a morning.
It’s not about presents, it’s about thanking everyone who has given their support in any way.Michelle Russell
“What spurs him on all the time is the other kids.
“He’s got a lovely set of friends who all help him.
“They all know about him and one little boy, Jay Lamb, if he falls, he will help pick him up, and they all help Derek in school if he falls.
“This is why we wanted the party, we wanted to thank everybody.
“It’s not about presents, it’s about thanking everyone who has given their support in any way.”
Derek, who attends Barmston Primary alongside his triplet siblings Terri and Daniel, has been given a huge amount of help from its staff, with physiotherapists visiting to help with his stretching sessions.
“He does have his setbacks, because when he has growth spurts he falls over and it’s really hard for him, but he just gets back up,” added Michelle.
“There’s just no way we could have done it without the school. And if it wasn’t for the generosity of the local community, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Derek, who also lives with brothers John, 18, Anthony, 14, and Joesph, 11, sister Rebecca, 15, and dad Derek, 40, has also taken kickboxing classes in addition to visits to Sunderland Climbing Wall.
It follows the procedure at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, where another boy who lives in London had the same op on the same day – the families have since become friends, with Michelle printing up a photo of the two lads on a T-shirt for each of the youngsters to celebrate the life-changing surgery.
The street party to mark the anniversary of the operation saw Derek pull on his new Batman outfit, a large spread of food and a bouncy castle.