An 11-year-old Ilkley boy has made notable progress in the last year – two years on from a life-changing operation.
Ben Smithson, who has cerebral palsy, was sent to America for pioneering surgery to help him walk unaided, thanks to tens of thousands of pounds raised by friends, family and people from around the country in 2010.
Ben made a trip back to the St Louis Children’s Hospital, in Missouri, for his 19-month check-up. His doctor, Tae Sung Park, was pleased with him and thinks he will improve further.
Ben’s mum, Charlotte Smithson, said he had gained in confidence after over-coming a challenging year as he made the leap from primary school to grammar school in September.
He is now walking around the school on crutches and has made a good set of friends who support him.
Mrs Smithson said: “Ben has gained in confidence tenfold in the last year and has had some major hurdles that he has overcome.
“We are never more proud of him than this year. He has had a lot of new changes and setbacks, but as always he puts 100 per cent into everything he does and achieves his goals.”
In 2012 Ben made his debut with the Yorkshire Wheel-chair Basketball under-15s team at the Lord Taverners Tournament at Stoke Mandeville, in which he came third.
Despite experiencing many highs this year, Ben has worked hard to overcome two major setbacks.
He dislocated his knee the day before his first day at his new school and again seven weeks later. Mrs Smithson said this was a big knock to his confidence, but he came through it stronger and more determined.
Ben will see a personal trainer this year, which his family hopes will build on his self esteem and will be a lifelong activity for him to maintain.
Mrs Smithson said: “Ben has had a fantastic year and worked so very hard, even when times were hard and he wanted to give up. This year will no doubt be another challenge for Ben with the addition of a personal trainer, but we are hoping this will become something Ben will carry on for the rest of his life to maintain his strength and keep him motivated and strong so he can achieve all he wants.”