FACING life in a wheelchair, the parents of little Lacey-May Cooper were told she would never be able to walk unaided.

But after friends, family and wellwishers from across Essex pulled together to raise £60,000 for pioneering surgery, the seven-year-old has stunned everyone by finding her feet only eight months after her operation.

After flying out to America to undergo a gruelling procedure and months of physiotherapy, Lacey-May, from Laindon, loves nothing better than playing in the garden with her family.

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Mum Sarah Cooper, 39, said since the surgery in October she was a different girl.

She said: “She’s doing so well.

“We are only eight months on and she’s up and running around.

“She really has found her legs. Of course, she’s falling too because she’s running so much.

“Lacey-May really is making improvements every day. It’s working that quickly. Going to America was the best thing we ever did.”

Lacey-May has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which meant she struggled to walk, had poor balance and speech and learning difficulties.

She also suffered spasticity in her legs, which caused her pain, and her family were told she would need a wheelchair in her twenties or thirties.

However, she has astounded doctors by recovering quickly from the operation.

Now one final fundraiser has been organised for Lacey-May to see her through the final rounds of physiotherapy.

Her family hope after the last session of treatment she will not need any more physiotherapy.

That final fundraiser – a fun day – is on Sunday, from 10am, at Rayleigh Town and Sports Social Club, in London Road.

Mrs Cooper, of Hermitage Drive, said the family were overwhelmed by the support they had received from people who donated towards Lacey- May’s surgery.

She added: “We just want to thank everyone who has helped, no matter how small.

“It’s made a huge difference to Lacey-May and to us.”

To sponsor Lacey-May, go to www.gofundme.com/laceymaysfund.

LACEY-MAY underwent a pioneering operation in America.

The family needed to raise £60,000 to get her to St Louis Children’s Hospital, in Missouri, for the op and to pay for the aftercare.

This includes a year’s worth of intensive rehabilitation after the procedure was carried out. Lacey-May was first diagnosed aged two, but in December 2012 they were told she had spastic diplegia – a form of cerebal palsy.

The op was a selective dorsal rhizotomy, a procedure which involves nerves being cut from her legs.