AN APPEAL to fund a life changing operation for a disabled Braunton boy has soared past its target in just 17 weeks, thanks to people's incredible generosity.
Nicki and Gary Palmer needed to raise £55,000 to take their son George to a hospital in America for surgery to enable him to walk.
They reached that target last week with a £4,999 donation from Barnstaple Round Table.
And, since then, the fund has soared to £61,000 which will ensure they can meet therapy costs in the future.
Four-year-old George who suffers from cerebral palsy and, as a result, is nearly always wheelchair bound, is now that much closer to getting the life changing surgery which will enable him to take his first steps.
His delighted mum Nicki said: "It is just absolutely unbelievable. It is massively exciting. We have been on such a high. We cannot put it into words.
"We are so happy that people have given our little boy this golden opportunity. How can you ever thank people enough for that?"
His parents have now contacted St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri – a centre of excellence for the treatment of cerebral palsy – and have received confirmation that George is on the October list for surgery. They should get an exact date at the beginning of August.
Nicki, 36, said: "We were so worried when we started fundraising in February. (Given) the state of finances in the country we thought this was possibly one of the worse years in which to try to fund raise. In 17 weeks to not only meet the target but to go over it, is just absolutely unbelievable."
Even though they have reached their goal they cannot go to America any sooner because George had Botox in his legs in January to help his muscles stretch and a six month space is required before the next surgery.
Also, he is due to go to Kingsacre Primary School in September and his parents feel it is important for him to start at the same time as the other children so they can settle in together.
The operation in America will involve cutting the nerve endings at the bottom of George's spine to eliminate the stiffness in his legs.
Afterwards he may need further surgery to enable him to stand and move properly.
Three weeks of intensive physiotherapy will follow to build up muscle and strength to help ensure walking starts as quickly as possible.
A few fundraising events are still to take place and the money they generate will pay for George's continued therapy at The Footsteps Centre in Oxford and Brainwave South West in Somerset as well as paying for a private therapist to come in three times a week to give him physiotherapy.
There will be a quiz night at the George and Dragon, Ilfracombe, on July 3; a bungee jump in Bristol on July 8, (go to www.justgiving.com/bungee-for-george); George's marvellous medicine fun day in Braunton Parish Hall on July 14.