Bid to boost brave boy

A FAMILY has launched a fund-raising campaign to find the £55,000 they need to allow their son to live as normal a life as possible. Three-year-old Maxwell McKnight, of Nelson Road, St Neots, was born with Type II Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) – a genetic

A FAMILY has launched a fund-raising campaign to find the £55,000 they need to allow their son to live as normal a life as possible.

Three-year-old Maxwell McKnight, of Nelson Road, St Neots, was born with Type II Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) - a genetic disorder, which means he will never be able to walk.

Maxwell's mother, Joanne McKnight, who is on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child, Yasmine, said: "His brain is fine, he is just physically disabled. His limbs are so weak that he can't even switch on a light bulb. We can strengthen his muscles by regular exercise, but they weaken so quickly and he will never be able to walk without a chair."

SMA primarily affects Maxwell's motor skills, and although he attends Eaton Socon Pre-School, he lacks strength to do day-to-day tasks.


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His parents are hoping to raise £30,000 for a specially adapted car, which will have a lifting platform. A further £15,000 for home alterations to provide a wet room and a downstairs toilet big enough for wheelchair access, £800 for a stand up chair to strengthen his upper body, and £10,000 for a through-the-floor lift to enable Maxwell easy access to the bathroom and his bedroom.

Mrs McKnight, 36, added: "I have to carry him up the stairs and by the time he gets up there his friends have come back downstairs.

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"We do not know if we will get all the money but we have our fingers crossed. We estimate it will take about a year to raise the money for the building work to the house, and we are concentrating on this as these changes will make the most difference to Maxwell's life."

The youngster undergoes three hours of physiotherapy a day to help prevent his spine from curling, and he walks 10 metres each day using a zimmer frame and leg braces.

Despite being confined to a wheelchair his parents say their son just gets on with things and is even brave enough to understand his condition, saying to his friends that he is not the same as them as his legs "do not work properly". Mrs McKnight said: "He is aware that he is different to his friends but we like to talk openly to him about his illness, as he is becoming more aware as he grows up.

"But mostly, he just likes to get on with things and he even likes me to take him to St Neots skatepark where he uses his chair on the ramps."

The family has been helped in the past with grants, but these have been for one-off items.

To help kick-start the fundraising, a raffle has been organised to take place on July 28. Tickets cost £5 each and are available from The Hong Kong Restaurant and Rock's Dim Sum Noodle Bar in the Market Square, St Neots.

Top prizes include a weekend driving a Porsche C4, Mercedes 350SL or an Audi RS4, a one-week break in the Costa Blanca and an indoor skydriving lesson in Bedford.

Maxwell's father, Paul, 34, is also planning to do his bit by taking part in the London duathlon in September and has already raised £1,000.

INFORMATION: To help Maxwell, or to find out more, visit www.maxwellmcknight.org.uk

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