Earlier this year Liv Fountain was the centre of a fundraising drive called Liv's Wish.

When asked if her wish had been granted the 11-year-old replied with a resounding, "yeah".

She has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, a condition which causes stiff, or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes.

For Liv it meant her leg muscles were extremely tight, limiting her ability to walk and stand unaided.


In May, thanks to the huge "Liv's Wish" campaign, supported by hundreds of New Zealanders, she travelled to St Louis in the USA for surgery she hoped would change her life.

"It's a bit scary knowing that they're cutting open your spine and they're cutting a nerve," Liv says.

Her mother, Marcia Nelson, who travelled to the States is of a similar opinion saying, "it was a bit daunting going into a strange hospital system".

But once there, things fell into place.

During surgery, Liv's spinal nerves were stimulated to identify spasticity before severing them which would stop the tightness.

And, when it was all over Liv said: "It was such a cool feeling to have, almost like my legs were fixed."

Her Mum says it's the best decision they ever made.

"The results were just immediate," Miss Nelson says.

On leaving surgery Liv's muscles, that had been tight all her life, were suddenly soft.

"She had her second surgery and her knees were straight for the first time since she was four-years-old, walking in a heel-toe walking pattern for the first time in her life."

The surgery isn't offered in New Zealand. Getting it done in the USA, along with flights and ongoing therapy costs a hefty $120,000 - which meant lots of fundraising.

"I think when we first spoke to you we had just found out our surgery had been moved from October to May, so we had 10 weeks basically and we had just started our fundraising."

Miss Nelson says they're overwhelmed by the support they received and they'd now like to help other people's wishes come true too.

"We were so lucky because we had so much support but it is a struggle, it's a lot of money to raise. There are more and more children and families and even young adults now wanting to go to St Louis for the same surgery and they are in the same boat of having to raise that money."

She says, depending on the community that person is in and how much support they're given, is varied which can make the fundraising drive that much harder.

For now, Liv spends her time finding her feet, or more precisely the muscles in her legs - lots of stretching, physio and mastering a special walking pattern.

"You have to go arm and then opposite leg and then arm and then opposite leg," Liv says as she demonstrates her ever-improving walking with crutches.

Liv knows her hard work has only just begun, but the operation has given her the chance to take life, literally, in her stride.

Liv's Givealittle page is still open.

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