Kristen Waite was told daughter Ocean would one day run, dance and play sport.

Now it looks like a mother's dream is becoming a reality.

The cute-as-a-button pre-schooler has discarded her walking sticks after a life-changing operation to rectify her spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. She has been walking independently for a month and is gaining strength every week.

''The kids at kindy are so cute... they bring her her walking sticks, and she just walks past them,'' Waite said.

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It has been nine months since Ocean, 4, had her surgery and it had been an amazing journey, Waite said.

Before the operation Ocean could only stand and walk short distances using a walking frame or crawl along the floor.

Ocean's progress has exceeded expectations.

''I am just so relieved, I no longer have to worry that Ocean is going to lose her mobility,'' Waite said.

''Our lives have both been changed. I don't have to carry her all the time. We can actually walk down the road holding hands.''

Ocean can even manage stairs now. Photo by Rebecca Mauger
Ocean can even manage stairs now. Photo by Rebecca Mauger

Before Ocean turned 2, she was diagnosed with the condition which is manifested as constant stiffness or tightness especially in the legs.

Waite cried for a week when Ocean was diagnosed but she couldn't accept their lot. She researched the condition and came across an operation done in the United States. The surgery involved working on nerves in the spine.

But it would be a lengthy and expensive undertaking... so a fundraising regime began.

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The Waihī community raised a whopping $150,000 for Waite and Ocean to travel to Missouri for the operation. They were there for a month.

After the surgery, Ocean had orthotic braces on her lower legs to support her feet and muscles. She took her first steps two months post operation. The surgeon told them she would one day be able to run, dance and play sport.

Ocean progressed with quad canes and eventually to single sticks.

It was March when the real breakthrough came — Ocean took her first independent steps.
She now gets around unaided. Her spasticity is gone.

''Since we have gone back to kindy she has just got better and better, to the point where she struts around kindy," Waite said.

Walking outside is a little more challenging, but she's doing it.

Ocean's days are busy. She goes to kindergarten three days a week and has strength training and therapy five days a week. Strengthening exercises are also done at home, and Ocean also uses weights, a treadmill and resistance bands.

Waite is still blown away and humbled by the community response. A huge number of individuals and groups held fundraising activities specifically to raise money for the little girl.

''From the bottom of my heart, thank you to every single person who has helped.''