Fourteen-year-old Harry Randall thought he'd never be able to walk.
But last night the Auckland teen stood on stage, in front of dozens of people, to perform his 7th show of The Secret Garden .
"Some of my friends in the audience who have seen me perform saw me walk for the first time and cried, which was pretty special," Harry told the Herald on Sunday.
Harry is the only New Zealander known to have acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), a rare condition he contracted from a virus when he was just 3. It stripped his ability to walk.
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Harry this year travelled to the US with his parents to visit world-leading orthotist Marmaduke Loke who fitted him with specially designed braces that allowed him to take his first steps.
"Walking for the first time felt like I expected it to, it just came to me naturally. It had been all I could think about for the weeks leading up to that moment," Harry said.
Now, nearly 10 months later, Harry has the lead role of a boy who was led to believe he was cripple his whole life and finds the confidence to walk for the first time in a magical garden.
"It's a character I can relate a lot to I guess. I always thought that I wouldn't walk again and, like this character I'm acting, I've been given that chance," Harry said.
His mum, Vicki Randall, said seeing her son on stage walking and full of confidence was "really special".
"It's a feeling that's difficult to put into words, especially when there have been a lot of people in the audience who contributed to Harry's fund it's so nice opportunity for them to see their acts of generosity come to fruition."
The Herald on Sunday caught up with Harry this week to see how he was getting on - it turns out he's not only taken a lead role in a symbolic play but he's also recently gained a silver medal in the New Zealand Opens swimming 400 metres freestyle.
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He is also due to compete internationally swimming at the Victoria Open Champions in February.
Loke first travelled to New Zealand in October last year and spent five hours aligning Harry's feet and making several casts that he took back to San Diego.
There, Loke designed a carbon fibre brace specifically suited to Harry's correct alignment, enabling him to walk again.
Harry - who calls himself the "one in a billion kid" - said he was grateful to be given the opportunity and wanted to thank everyone who supported him.
A Givealittle page set up to support Harry has raised $28,000.
What is AMF?
AFM is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system. Specifically it attacks the area of the spinal cord called grey matter, weakening the body's muscles and reflexes.
Symptoms often develop after a viral infection, such as enterovirus or West Nile virus, but often no clear cause is found.
Patients start with flu-like symptoms including sneezing and coughing. This slowly turns into muscle weakness, difficulty moving the eyes and then polio-like symptoms including facial drooping and difficulty swallowing.