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'I just want to walk': How a town united to help young boy

Cayleb Pinalli 7 of Burdell has cerebral palsy but isn't letting it slow him down as he is hopeful of one day walking without assistance. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Cayleb Pinalli 7 of Burdell has cerebral palsy but isn't letting it slow him down as he is hopeful of one day walking without assistance. Picture: Zak Simmonds

AN unlikely source has helped a young North Queensland boy in his mission to walk unaided.

Strangers have donated thousands of dollars to help Cayleb Pinalli's wish come true.

The St Clare's Catholic School Year 1 student has not had an easy life.

He was born 16 weeks early in Townsville Hospital in August 2010 and later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

The section of his brain which allows speech and walking was badly damaged.

He spent 107 days in hospital and on oxygen for the first nine months of his life to assist with his chronic lung disease.

"They didn't expect him to make it out of my caesarean," his mother Sarah Pinalli said.

As the years progressed he was able to use an aide to walk a short distance, but spasticity in his legs made them so tight he couldn't sit or walk properly.

 

Mum Sarah Pinalli with 7 year old son Cayleb Pinalli of Burdell who has cerebral palsy but isn't letting it slow him down as he is hopeful of one day walking without assistance. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Mum Sarah Pinalli with 7 year old son Cayleb Pinalli of Burdell who has cerebral palsy but isn't letting it slow him down as he is hopeful of one day walking without assistance. Picture: Zak Simmonds

A meeting with a physiotherapist in Brisbane gave his family some hope.

"I was speaking with her and she mentioned surgery, selective dorsal rhizotomy, which I'd never heard of before," Mrs Pinalli said.

The neurosurgical technique involves cutting the sensory nerve roots at the spinal cord level and is suitable for select children with spasticity of the lower limbs.

Despite long odds, Cayleb was able to get the surgery in February this year.

"Before his operation he couldn't stand unaided and couldn't sit with his legs crossed," Mrs Pinalli said.

"Now nine months down the track he can stand unaided for more than two minutes and uses his walker everywhere."

Recently Mrs Pinalli began fundraising for a TheraSuit, an exercise device used by therapists and parents, but wasn't able to collect much money.

That's when the kindness of strangers changed everything.

"Someone in my husband's company, Humes, sent an email about it (fundraiser)," Mrs Pinalli said.

"That's when all these donations started coming in and we soon raised the $7000 that we needed."

Mrs Pinalli says Caleb was a happy child who had one wish if he could walk.

"He told me the first thing he wants to do is play football with his brother Zachary because he's such a Cowboys fan."

Topics:  editors picks lifestyle townsville


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