A CAMPAIGN to secure the £35,000 necessary to allow Jayden-Vito Mazzotta-Drapper to take his first steps unaided has gathered local support with £3,000 already raised.

Three-year-old Jayden, of Walcot, was diagnosed with spastic diplegia at the age of one, a muscle-stiffness which prevents him from standing on his legs or walking without the support of a frame.

His increasing discomfort led his parents Charlene Mazzotta and Jason Drapper to try to raise funds to cover the cost of life-changing surgery, which would allow him to recover full use of his legs.

In January they launched a Swindon-wide campaign and soon rallied the support and financial backing of scores of friends and benevolent strangers who donated generously toward the operation.

“I didn’t think the appeal would take off so fast,” said Charlene. “I’m still overwhelmed.

“Everybody has been absolutely fantastic. We’ve also received £373 from the Rotary Club of Swindon Phoenix and I really want to thank them for that.

“It’s fantastic but it’s also quite worrying. You feel happy that people are helping out but it will be very scary when the operation actually happens and have Jayden in surgery for five or six hours.”

As Jayden’s condition has been worsening for the last few weeks, Charlene is however more determined than ever to collect the £35,000 needed for the procedure and subsequent months of physiotherapy.

“Jayden’s legs are really starting to get worse and turning in a bit more,” added the mother-of-two. He wants to play football and he loves dancing and he does get frustrated sometimes.

“He is supposed to wear splints on the bottom of his feet but he is not keen on wearing them because it hurts at the moment.

“He has started to complain about pain in his knees.

“And it’s difficult to see him like that every day and fighting with him to put them on.

“It’s hard to explain to a three-year-old he needs to wear them.”

The surgery, known as selective dorsal rhizotomy, involves cutting nerves in the lower spine responsible for muscle rigidity and lasts between four and five hours.

The family is hoping Jayden will soon get a referral to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol where the operation will be carried out, if he is eligible for it, after he turns four.

As well as cerebral palsy, Jayden suffered from posterior urethral valve disorder, the most common cause of bladder outlet obstruction in male newborns.

At just three months old, the infant had one of his kidneys removed.

A horseracing and bingo night will be held at The GW Bar and Grill on Saturday, March 1 in aid of Jayden from 7pm.

To make a donation visit the The Jayden-Vito Fund Facebook group or go to www.justgiving.com/Charlene-Mazzotta