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In 2012 an appeal was launched for teenagers Katie and Emily Sutcliffe, both Lancaster residents, to fly to America for surgery that would help them realise their dream of walking unaided.
The then 15 year olds both suffer from a condition known as spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. The condition causes severe stiffness and pain in their legs, rendering them wheelchair bound.
For most of their lives, Katie and Emily did not think they would be able to receive much help for their condition. However a new operation called selective dorsal rhizotomy recently became available at St Louis Children’s Hospital in the American state of Missouri.
While the surgery offered hope to the twins, it is an extremely expensive procedure. This led to the launch of the appeal in order to raise the £85,000 needed to send Katie and Emily to the United States and pay for the operation.
Lancaster University and its students were involved in supporting the appeal with several money raising events. These included a Bowland college JCR auction where university JCR members sold themselves off as servants. Cartmel College held a Cinderella Christmas Pantomime and a ‘zumbathon’ held at the Lancaster Sports centre. Others held their own events, like students Ron Todd and Arthur Haynes who led a 24-hour radio show on Bailrigg FM.
In order to thank people for the efforts made in support of her daughters, their mother, Caroline Sutcliffe, has written a thank you letter to Lancaster University students for their support. SCAN has published it below.
“Well folks this has been a great weekend for Emma and her progress. She can now manage to get up from sitting by just pushing through her legs to standing and has managed to take 12 independent steps, something she has never done in her 16 years on this earth! Her balance is getting better and better and she is able to take more controlled steps now. This is massive progress for Emma, as she is much weaker than her sister… who incidentally hasn’t used her wheelchair for four weeks. Katie is using short canes all the time when at school, and walks around the house independently most of the time, which again is absolutely amazing and a joy for me to see. To say we are only 4 months post-op, this is brilliant news for both girls. We were told it would take up to two years for them to reach their goal of walking independently, so we are making great progress, although I am very aware we still have a long way to go! Thanks to all of you for your continued support.. I am one very happy Mum! xxxxx”