THE parents of a baby who will never walk are appealing for help in fundraising to give the youngster a chance at a normal life.
George Tappenden is only 15 months old but his parents have already been given the tragic news that he is suffering from spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a muscle-wasting disease which means he may not live to see his eighth birthday.
Mother Lucy Frost, 33, from Shirley, only found out about the disorder two weeks ago after frequent trips to the hospital sparked by concerns George was unable to bear his own weight.
His legs have already become immobile and he will never walk.
Miss Frost, along with her partner Anthony Tappenden, are now appealing for Croydon residents and businesses to donate to George so he can afford vital equipment for a normal life.
She said: "We only found out two weeks ago it was SMA and since then I have been trying to read up on it.
"It was a complete shock, it's overwhelming and very upsetting. I want to give George everything I can but I have a two-year-old daughter as well so there just isn't enough time in the day.
"There will be expensive things to pay for; a wheelchair alone costs £21,000. It is things like that and a special bike and equipment that we need to raise money for.
"I want him to be able to do normal little boy things, I don't want him to have to watch his sister ride off on her bike and he not be able to join her."
Miss Frost and Mr Tappenden are hoping people will dig deep and help George by donating equipment or money to help him lead as normal life as possible.
He has SMA type 2, meaning he could live from anywhere from eight years old to into his twenties. SMA can affect children so badly that they don't reach two years.
Miss Frost said: "My partner and I will dedicate our lives to George and our other children and will make him as self-sufficient as we can. There is lots George can and will achieve and we have every faith that he will do this.
"He will be given every opportunity to excel. SMA children are known for intelligence so there is no reason he can't do great things academically.
"It's a cruel and disgusting disease but he could not have had a better family to make his life as wonderful as possible."
Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) is the leading genetic killer of infants and toddlers. The disease afflicts an estimated one in every 6,000 live births. Worldwide, 13,000 lives are lost every year. More than 25,000 Americans have SMA. The international scientific community agrees that of all neuromuscular diseases, SMA is the closest to developing a treatment or a cure. SMA does not affect sensation and intellectual activity in patients. It commonly is observed that patients with SMA are unusually bright and sociable. The family will be holding a ball at Addington Palace in May to raise money for George.
If you would like to help e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07523 289326.