A LITTLE boy who cannot walk unaided is hoping to achieve his dream of striding onto his favourite football team’s pitch as a mascot.
Seven-year-old James Driver needs pioneering surgery, which could cost up to £45,000, to make his wish come true.
And to help his family raise the cash, his friend Elizabeth Botterill, is taking part in Jane Tomlinson’s Swim For All later this month.
Leeds United fan James was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at nine months old, after being born 11 weeks prematurely.
But the Robin Hood Primary School pupil has defied doctors who said he may never walk, and last month he completed the Leeds Half Marathon Mini Walk with the help of his walking frame.
James’ mum, Tracey Driver, said: “He uses a wheelchair to get around, he does have a walking frame but he can only walk small distances.
“The surgery would mean he could be more independent because he needs help with the frame, if he takes his hands off it he’ll fall. The aim is for him to walk with a stick, we’re just taking it one step at a time.
“His dream is to walk on the pitch at Elland Road as a mascot.”
The NHS is currently in talks over whether it can pay for his surgery, but his family would still need to meet the costs of up to two years of after care that could cost up to £25,000.
His family set up a campaign, James’ Wish To Walk, to raise as much money as possible.
Family friend Mrs Botterill, 38, is collecting sponsors for the Swim For All at Pugneys Country Park on Sunday, June 17.
She said: “I can swim but I’m not a particularly strong swimmer. But I’ll do it if it will help James, he’s a lovely little lad.
“We want to do everything we can to help him walk.”
The Swim For All was set up in memory of Jane Tomlinson, who raised thousands of pounds for charity during her battle with cancer until her death in 2007.
To sign up visit www.forallevents.co.uk/swim-for-all
To support James’ cause visit www.jameswishtowalk.org