A NEWPORT tot born with cerebral palsy has taken his first steps alongside his father, using a harness.
The parents of little Casey Hard, who turns three in November, were told they would never see their son walk, but this week he has been able to get as close as possible to real steps thanks to friends, family and complete strangers who have helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for Casey's Cause.
Casey's dad Anthony Hard, 35, who along with wife Nahella, 34, established Casey's Cause a year ago to help raise funds to buy their severely disabled son a specialised bed.
But the fund has gone from strength to strength and the family, completed by daughter Reagan, 10, have also been able to buy Casey a hot tub for hydrotheraphy; special shoes; a comfy secure chair called a Peapod; a postural chair that can be put into a pushchair or shopping trolley; and have started to put an extension on their house partly using grant funding with a specialist bath.
The most recent addition has been a specialised harness called a Firefly Uppsee, which Mr Hard strapped to his legs and onto Casey to help the tot experience the sensation of walking.
Visit www.southwalesargus.co.uk to watch the video.
Mr Hard was himself diagnosed with a brain tumour three years ago, but following two operations has been clear of the disease for a year and recently returned to work as an aircraft engineer.
"It's so clever and it gives children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities an ability to get the feeling of walking," said Mr Hard of the harness.
"The only reason we were able to buy it was because of Casey's Cause. It's been amazing. To see him walking, we were overjoyed, everybody had a tear in their eye.
"We were told he would be in a wheelchair forever, but this invention has come along and that's only in the last few years. Doctors pretty much wrote him off but we just fought on. The sky's the limit."
Casey, who is successfully fed with pureed food through a "button" in his stomach after he lost the ability to eat orally earlier this year, is now becoming so heavy that his parents can't keep lifting him upstairs, and his bedroom is being moved downstairs into a new extension complete with hoists and wider doorways.
Faced with paying £7,000 for labour costs alone, out of a £36,000 council grant, friends of the family who work as a project manager, an architect and an interior designer rallied round and offered their services for free.
Despite constant seizures, the family were even able to take Casey away on holiday for a week in Devon this year, which Mr Hard described as "absolutely fantastic".
On August 30 Mr Hard and his brothers Simon, Michael and Thomas will take part in a 24-hour gymathon at Functional Fitness gym in Newport along with friends and gym owner Leon Goodman.
To donate visit www.justgiving.com/yimby/24hrgymathon
A charity golf day for Casey's Cause takes place at Greenmeadow Golf Club in Cwmbran on September 12 and there will be an afternoon tea at Celtic Manor on the same day.