A LITTLE girl who travelled abroad for surgery to help her walk has adopted a vigorous training routine to wear the Communion shoes she has always wanted.
Anna Browne, from Mallow, underwent selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery in Missouri last August after €100,000 was raised by the public for her treatment.
Before the surgery, she could only walk short distances and required the use of a wheelchair.
Now, the eight-year-old is determined to wear the shoes she’s always wanted for her walk up the aisle.
Her mum, Evelyn Browne, said she hopes to have the shoes framed after the event in May.
“A lot of parents get a mould made of their baby’s first pair of shoes,” she said.
“We never did that with Anna because it served as a reminder of where we were at. Now, all these years later, we are so excited about this pair of shoes.”
Anna was diagnosed with a significant brain injury, known as bilateral PVL of the brain, which resulted in spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, a condition inhibiting movement of the lower limbs.
Up until now, she could only dream of sporting ‘occasion shoes’.
“She can only ever wear a certain type of shoe to facilitate the ankle-foot orthosis,” Evelyn explained.
“A lot of preparation will be required the night before as her
feet will need to be strapped in place, but even if she gets an hour or
two in these shoes it will be a huge achievement.”
Evelyn has pulled out all the
stops for her daughter’s First Holy Communion.
“I have the flat shoes, just in case, but Anna keeps telling me that she won’t need them.”
The little girl has always had a particular taste in footwear.
“I thought that we might be able to get her silver converse but Anna maintains that a girl needs heels.
“The ones I bought were white with diamantes. I couldn’t bring her to the shoe shop as there were so many shoes she would have liked but couldn’t wear.”
The pair have a lot of work to do before Anna’s big day.
“The shoes are so white that we’re afraid they will get dirty. Instead, we have her sister’s old communion shoes to practice in. She walks in them every day. For Anna, these are not just shoes.”
Evelyn said that life since the operation hasn’t been easy for Anna.
“She had been getting sick a lot which is probably down to the physical exhaustion,” Evelyn said.
“She is not training to play a match or run a marathon. She is training to stay mobile, but it takes everything she has to do that.”
She added that shoe shopping for Anna can be difficult.
“I never brought her with me to the shoe shop as it was a reminder of what she couldn’t have. It would have upset her to have to look at all those beautiful shoes.”
The family is still in awe of how far brave little Anna has come.
“It was all strangers who fundraised for us and we hope to do the same for someone else. We’ll pick a different child every year if we can.
“Twelve months ago we would have never been able to consider anything like this but taking Anna to the US for surgery was the best thing we ever did. We are so grateful to everyone who fundraised for giving her this opportunity.”