A truly uplifting moment as the people of Wisbech - and beyond- come together to raise £70,000 in weeks to get ‘Billy Lee Back On My Own Two Feet’
- Credit: Archant
What a difference eight weeks make - for that’s all it took for friends, family and strangers to raise a massive £70,000 needed to buy a Fenland student a bionic leg after his was amputated through cancer.
Billy Lee was diagnosed with an aggressive form of teenage cancer just 10 days before his 20th birthday and within two months of diagnosis had to have his leg and part of his hip amputated to save his life.
Now, thanks to an overwhelming outpouring of support from the local community, he is set to have a hi tech bionic leg fitted in time for his 21st birthday at the end of November at the UK’s leading prosthetic limb centre in Dorset.
The limb will require maintenance every five years at a cost of £18,500 per time so the fund raising will not stop, said his Mum Bex.
“Reaching our target this quick is unbelievable. Thanks seems such a small word. It’s not enough for how we feel towards everybody who has supported our son.
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“He seems to have been taken to people’s hearts. There for the grace of God go anybody’s child. What started with leg pain increased dramatically and very quickly so that within a short space of time his right leg and hip were amputated to remove a tumour the size of a can of baked beans.
“Knowing we have the money for the new leg is an amazing feeling,” she said.
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The fund raising reached its target on Tuesday which she said had given Billy Lee a massive boost.
“Throughout it all he has been remarkable,” she said.
“Of course there have been down days but not many. He had one recently when friends went out clubbing but he didn’t feel comfortable going.
“Mostly though he has just got on with it. Throughout it all he has been positive.
“Thanks to Instagram he is now in touch with other young people who have had the same limb he is about to have fitted so he knows what to expect.
“Of course this has been challenging for all of us, but the support from so many people has kept us going.”
The family moved to Wisbech St Mary from Surrey seven years ago and since then Mrs Lee has been heavily involved on the parent teacher committee of the village primary school and the local playgroup.
“I’m used to fund raising but nothing like this,” she said.
Billy Lee’s employers, Bloom and Wake have not only held open his apprenticeship for when he is well enough to return but have also been busy in the background organising their own fund raising.
He is due to have an Otto Bock Helix 3D leg fitted which uses ground-breaking technology to give a more natural walk.
It has three-dimensional pelvic rotation which mimics the natural movement of the human body unlike other prosthetic “hinged” hips.
The design helps users start their step more smoothly, improves toe clearance and makes it easier to extend the leg during walking.
“The results are dramatic,” said the Otto Bock website which adds that users will “spend much less energy thinking about the next step and experience less pain in the back and joints.”
Mrs Lee said: “It means he can get on with his life like any other young man his age because it will mirror his other leg. He will be able to easily go up and down stairs, climb hills, walk his wife down the aisle, play with his kids. It has given back hope.”