Eight-year-old Crystal Palace fan Scarlett Hewitt from New Addington set for life-changing surgery after family raise £65,000 in just three months

Croydon Guardian: Scarlett Hewitt with dad John, mum Lisa and sister Sienna Scarlett Hewitt with dad John, mum Lisa and sister Sienna

An eight-year-old with cerebral palsy is set to realise her wish to walk after her family raised £65,000 in just three months to pay for a life-changing operation.

Scarlett Hewitt, of New Addington, is to fly to the United States for pioneering surgery that will change her life, thanks to floods of support from family, friends and Crystal Palace football club.

Her parents Lisa and John, of Uvedale Crescent, launched a campaign in April to raise funds for the operation, which will reduce the spasticity in Scarlett's legs and enable her to walk unaided but is not available on the NHS.

They set an ambitious target of raising the money to pay for the procedure to be carried out at St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri in October.

After hitting the target yesterday, Mr Hewitt said: "It is amazing. We have been going 16 weeks now and to hit it in that short space of time is unbelievable.

"At the beginning we just sat back and said, 'How the hell are we going to fundraise £10,000 a month?' It seemed impossible at the time, but we've done it.

"We owe a lot to friends and family, who have done a lot, and Palace have been brilliant as well. Everyone has, really. It is so overwhelming.

"It is unreal how everyone gathered around when it really mattered. Friends and family have gone out of their way to help. It has been fantastic."

Campaigning under the name Scarlett's Wish to Walk, the family received thousands in donations from friends, family members and strangers, while funds were also raised through sponsored events including runs, football matches and sky-dives.

Crystal Palace player, fans and owners also contributed, while the fanzine Five-Year Plan donated half the proceeds from their last issue of the season.

Croydon Guardian:

Scarlett with former Palace winger Wilfried Zaha at a fundraising day the White Horse pub in Selhurst

The club also invited Scarlett to be a mascot at its match against Manchester City, when she was carried across the pitch by Yannick Bolasie.

Money raised from future events will help pay for Scarlett's lengthy rehabilitation.

Mr Hewitt said the operation, known as selective dorsal rhizotomy, meant his daughter could look forward to "a better future".

He added: "It is going to make everyday life more easy, to do the everyday things we take for granted. That's the main thing, to make her life a little bit easier and more pain-free."

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