LITTLE Scarlett Hewitt started this year unable to walk unaided and with only faint hope of ever receiving the treatment required to reduce the effects of her cerebral palsy.
But after a phenomenal fundraising effort from the New Addington community, from Advertiser readers, and all around Croydon, she will spend Christmas well on her way to her goal.
The nine-year-old Gresham Primary pupil, of Uvedale Close, flew to St Louis, in Missouri in the USA for a £65,000 selective dorsal rhizotomy procedure from world-leading expert in the field Dr T.S Park.
But before her family first made the internet appeal for help in March, her parents were unsure if the risk would be worth it at all.
Mum Lisa, 35, said: "We weren't sure because it's a dangerous procedure and we just thought 'how are we going to raise £65,000'? But we were so wrong, it has been totally worth it just to see Scarlett now how she's coping with it."
As it turned out, the £65,000 target was not only achieved but smashed in half the time the family originally set for themselves. To date, including gift aid on the Just Giving page, Mrs Hewitt estimates more than £95,000 has been raised for Scarlett's cause. The money on top will be used to aid Scarlett's rehabilitation, with any additional money left after three years being given to the SDR charity.
Scarlett's dad, postman John, 36, said: "It's incredible how much support we've had from everyone. When we flew out to America, there was a man sitting next to us on the plane who saw our T-shirts and asked about Scarlett.
"He got his laptop out on the plane and donated a thousand dollars right there and then. When we contacted him afterwards he said he was lucky that he had three healthy children and felt he would like to help. I couldn't believe it."
Scarlett is still in splints but is rehabbing and practising her walking every day as she continues what Mrs Hewitt said was still a long road ahead of her.
"She does have lots to do but we're so proud of her and she's working so hard. She's always up and trying to walk, she's our little trouper."
The funds were raised by many different sources, including Crystal Palace Football Club, New Addington-based football team Nugget FC, social club the Over 21 Club, and phone giant O2's head office.
Mrs Hewitt, who is full-time mum to Scarlett, Sienna, eight, and Saffron, three, added: "We just want to thank everyone for being incredible. It really does show the good in people."
The whole family will spend Christmas together this year although Scarlett can't quite decide what she wants Santa to bring her.
But with her new, brighter future ahead of her, she has set her sights on a career that would certainly make the most of her procedure.
Mrs Hewitt added: "She wants to be a postman like her daddy at the moment – but that keeps changing all the time."