It’s a dream come true - brave Maddie takes her first walk to school

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

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It’s the moment her parents dreamed of seeing.

Brave Maddie Harrington, five, has walked to school for the first time - a major milestone for the Everton youngster, who suffers severe developmental delay.

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

She was all smiles as she left her wheelchair at home for the big day. And now her grateful mum, Lisa, has vowed to raise thousands for the hospital that treats her by taking on a walking challenge of her own.

“This is what we have been working towards for so long” said Lisa. “She has a walking frame that she uses every day, and she has splints fitted to her legs, but she says she just wants to be like her friends!”

Little Maddie Harrington has taken her first steps after a rare condition left her unable to reach milestones at the same speed as her peers.

The youngster, aged five, of Everton, Bawtry, was all smiles as she left her wheelchair at home for a walk to school – the first time she has ever made the journey on foot. Her grateful mum, Lisa, has now vowed to raise thousands for the hospital that treats her by taking on a walking challenge of her own.

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

“This is what we have been working towards for so long” said Lisa. “We have wanted to get her walking, and this has been our priority. She has a walking frame that she uses every day, and she has splints fitted to her legs, but she says she just wants to be like her friends!”

Little Maddie has severe developmental delay as a result of a condition currently being investigated by Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s internationally-reknowned genetics team. She was diagnosed with the condition at 18 months old, after mum-of-six Lisa realised she was not reaching her milestones.

“I started to notice that she couldn’t do things other children do” she said. “We knew something wasn’t quite right with her. She wasn’t responding to things like she should, so I wasn’t sure she could even hear.”

At the same time, Maddie began to show weakness down her left side, and was taken to Sheffield Children’s where it was thought she had had a stroke. But an MRI scan revealed Maddie had a large part of her brain missing, a condition called agenesis of the corpus callosum.

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

Maddie Harrington MADDIE, 5, TAKES FIRST STEPS AS MUM LEADS CHARITY MOUNTAIN WALK IN HER NAME

The rare birth defect causes the white matter between the right and left sides of the brain to not develop. To the shock of her parents, the MRI also revealed a massive cyst the size of an orange on the right of her brain causing further brain damage and pressure which caused weakness down the left hand side of the body.

Obviously the family were devastated with this news, and the not knowing what the future would hold for Maddie was a huge pressure on them, but Maddie seems to be defying all odds and has progressed positively in so many ways and that’s down to her own determination and being positive.

The genetics team have placed Maddie on a five-year program to identify the cause of her developmental delay. She has regular physiotherapy appointments and has physio at home each day. Her low muscle tone causes swallowing and chewing issues, so she has had to undergo surgery to have her tonsils and adenoids removed.

That is on top of four surgeries to remove two extra toes she was born with, and rectifying the bone structure of her foot.

“Despite everything she is still such a character” said Lisa. “She is a real cheeky monkey – a girly girl with a feisty streak. You can have a great conversation with her, although it takes a little longer for her to process what you have said, than another child her age. But she cares so much about others. If children are upset at school, she really feels for them and wants to help in such a caring way. And they look after her too but in such a natural way, like passing her things and just waiting for her to catch up with them in the playground.” Maddie has such good support from the children along with her teachers, they are so fantastic, they always have Maddie’s best interests at heart and just go that extra mile, Mrs Bowers is Maddie’s teacher but also her best friend.

Now Lisa has vowed to raise thousands for The Children’s Hospital Charity to say thanks to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for her care. She has set up a group, called Maddie’s Mountaineers, which will see her joined by 18 others to scale the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in June. The mountaineers will take on Scafell Pike at 3,209ft, Snowdon at 3,560ft and Ben Nevis at 4,409ft – all in 24 hours. Lisa’s workplace, CTA Construction Training Academy have also joined the fundraising, inviting customers to make a donation each time they sign up. The firm have already raised £700 to the cause.

Lisa said: “The care we have received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital has been fantastic, it really has. Everything the staff does is just extra – they go above and beyond to make sure everything is right and the family are happy. That is why we want to give something back to the hospital by supporting The Children’s Hospital Charity.

Clare Collingworth, corporate fundraiser at The Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are delighted that Lisa and her colleagues and friends at CTA Construction Traning Academy are taking on this incredible fundraising challenge for our hospital. Every penny they raise will help change lives at our hospital for patients like Maddie, so they can continue to have access to the best possible care and treatment.”

The Children’s Hospital Charity funds provides enhancements for Sheffield Children’s Hospital that are over and above the standard NHS provision. They fund four areas, including research into the prevention and cure of childhood illness, new medical equipment, better facilities and improvements to the hospital environment.

For more information, visit {http://www.tchc.org.uk/The Children’s Hospital Charity|click here}

To donate to Maddie’s Mountaineers, visit Maddie’s Mountaineers

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