Family and friends are doing everything they can to make a toddler’s dream of being able to walk come true.
Sonny Hamilton, who turns three on Monday, was born prematurely with cerebral palsy, which affects his ability to sit and walk.
He needs a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) operation in America and his family are trying to raise £80,000 to get him this by next year.
So far they have raised £30,000.
Crawley Rugby Club is hosting a major rugby festival over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend to help the family achieve this goal.
Sonny’s mum, Katie Finkle, 26, of Holman Close, Crawley, said the money raised will be ‘life-changing’.
She said: “For us, this weekend is huge. The money will make such a difference to us, it will be life-changing.
“Sonny is a very happy little boy and is extremely determined. He is very sociable and he will love being the centre of attention this weekend!
“We need to raise the money by the beginning of next year.
“This just means everything to us and to be able to give Sonny this chance – this is his whole life. It is not just the operation that the money will be going to either, it is the physio and after care – this costs so much.
“We hope to raise as much as possible – anything makes a difference.”
Katie’s partner, Luke Attew, 27, ‘who treats Sonny like his own’, plays for Crawley RFC.
Sonny will be leading out the two teams of ex-internationals who will be playing in the Legends match on Saturday at 3pm.
Katie added: “I think this will really show people the struggle he has everyday and what this operation means.”
This will be the second type of event held at the rugby club in Ifield Avenue, having raised £30,000 last year for the Olivers Wish Foundation, which was founded by prominent member of the club and former 1st team captain, Rob Dowling, 42.
His son, Oliver tragically died in his sleep just before his second birthday in October 2015.
Rob said: “Last year’s event was tremendously successful and we were keen to do it again and thought it would be amazing to help Sonny this year. I couldn’t think of anything better.
“I met Sonny at the rugby club as his step father is a player. I still support the club and enjoy going down there.
“He is a lovely little boy and a brave little chap who is unbelievably determined, despite his condition.
“He is always determined to get around and this is his dream to walk.
“We decided to help as much as we can and wanted to run it again for Sonny.
“He will be leading the two teams out and this will be quite an emotional moment.”
Thousands are expected to attend the rugby festival, which opens to the public at 11am on Saturday (May 27).
A kids rugby academy will take place from 12pm until 2pm, before the Legends match at 3pm which will feature two full teams of ex-internationals.
The latest sign ups include famous names such as former Lion Lee Mears, ex Australia international Justin Harrison and Ex Wales players, Sonny Parker and Alix Popham.
The festival will run until 11pm with live bands playing through the night.
A kids funfair, food stalls and a beer tent will also be on offer.
John Doyle, 40, senior club captain, of Southgate, Crawley, said: “We are all volunteers here at the club and this is something we are thrilled to be involved in.
“To build a community based event this size is fantastic. And it is about rasing rugby and getting some of the kids involved and to raise money for some really fantastic causes.
“It is especially important for us this year for Sonny – as his step dad is a member of the club and we are one club and we look out for each other.
“The family’s time is pressing as ideally Sonny will have the operation within the next year for the highest chance of success and we believe we can go a long way in helping his family achieve their dream.”
The festival is free to kids and adults can make a voluntary donation of £5 at the door.
To donate to Sonny visit www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/just4children/sonnysdreamtowalk.
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