By Derek Schlennstedt
Five-year-old Willem Fraser may rely on a wheelchair to get around, but it hasn’t stopped him from taking part in this year’s Melbourne Marathon.
Willem, who has dystonic cerebral palsy, will take part in a 3km walk in support of children with the condition.
He and his family will be participating in the Melbourne Marathon Fund-raiser on Sunday 15 October, and mum Lee Fraser, said the entire family had come together to support Willem.
“It’s a big family affair.”
“We’ve been with the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre (CPEC) since he was two … I think if it hadn’t been for them, we would be in a much worse place than we are,” Mrs Fraser said.
CPEC supports children (0-18 years) with cerebral palsy and similar conditions and enable families to access essential equipment they need in their daily lives.
Willem was born 25 weeks premature at a tiny 600 grams, “about the size of a coke bottle,” Mrs Fraser said.
At 11 months old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of celebral palsy that inhibits his movement.
Though it was a dramatic start to life, Willem showed incredible resilience and determination, Mrs Fraser said, adding that he was very active at Kindergarten and was excited to go onto the MCG – where the marathon ends.
“He’s a pretty happy chappy,” she said.
“He loves Kinder … he gets very tired which tells me he loves it as often when I come to pick him up he’s asleep.”
Though his movement is restricted, Mrs Fraser said, he was a very chatty kid, and could already spell and read fluently, and Cerebral Palsy Education Centre’s Robyne Somerville also said he was a very “bright spark.”
“He can already read almost fluently and spell … so hopefully he doesn’t get bored at school next year,” Mrs Fraser said.
Although Willem will be in his wheelchair for the marathon, Mrs Fraser said she was hopeful that surgery next year would help to reduce the dystonia and may see Willem take his first steps.
“We’re hoping to have some big intervention at Royal Children’s which will knock out some of the dystonia.”
“When a message is sent to move, it’s going to the wrong place or everywhere, so when he tries to move, he switches everything on.”
“Surgery might help so next year he might just be walking,” Mr Fraser said.
One child every 14 hours is born with CP, but funding for CPEC has remained the same for the past six years. A fund-raiser in support of the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre has already raised over $100, and has a target of $750.
To donate to Willem’s 3km marathon visit https://melbournemarathon2017.everydayhero.com/au/willem