The family of a young Millwall supporter with cerebral palsy who wants to have “legs like her friends” are fundraising for potentially life-changing surgery.
Ellice Barr was just 22-months-old when she was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy after her parents noticed she was barely crawling.
The youngster, who was born seven weeks early weighing just 3lbs 9oz, has splints on her legs and has to use a walking frame to get around as the condition causes muscle tension and spasms in her lower legs.
Now aged six, Lions fan Ellice says she wants to have legs like her school friends and be able to climb.
Parents Joe, 38, and Amy, 32, have set up a fundraising page to raise the money needed for a surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy which isn’t currently available on the NHS but could help Ellice to walk unaided.
Speaking to the News, Millwall season ticket holder Joe said: “When Ellice was diagnosed we were all devastated for her.
“However, she’s in a mainstream school and they’ve done a cognitive test and said it hasn’t affected her mentally, it’s just her legs don’t work.
“It would’ve broken my heart if they said it affected her elsewhere but nowadays businesses have to be disability-friendly and her quality of life would’ve been so much worse if it affected her mentally.
“This operation should permanently reduce the spasticity in her legs and remove the tightness which will then improve her walking, range of motion and mobility.
“They can’t guarantee it’s going to work but even if she can walk with a little bit of a limp or with one crutch that would be perfect for us – we just want to give her a better quality of life.”
The surgery isn’t currently funded by the NHS so Ellice’s family is trying to raise £65,000 for the operation as well as ongoing physiotherapy.
It is hoped she will be able to have the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital this July.
“Ellice is fully aware of the operation,” said Joe, who works as an assistant manager at an Aldi store.
“I said ‘we are going to try to fix your legs, how do you feel about that’ and her exact words were ‘I want to have legs like my friends and climb better’.”
Joe, who lives in Deal, Kent, with his family, which includes eight-year-old Jay, thanked the community for their support as well as Millwall FC which invited Ellice to the ground to see the players, dressing room and dugout after winger Jed Wallace read about the youngster’s plight on Twitter.
To view Ellice’s fundraising page, visit: www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/just4children/elliceswishtowalk