DESPITE shying away from interaction, 15-year-old Asperger’s sufferer Kieran Drapper will put his apprehension aside to freefall 3,000ft in a bid to allow his little brother to take his first steps.
Kieran, of Walcot, will skydive in Salisbury to raise funds for his three-year-old sibling Jayden-Vito Mazzotta-Drapper, who is unable to walk as a result of cerebral palsy, two weeks after his 16th birthday on August 24.
Last December, Jayden’s family launched an appeal to secure the £24,000 needed to cover the cost of a complex operation to enable him to recover the use of his legs. This month the NHS announced the expensive procedure would be available free to a select few for up to three years as part of a pilot scheme.
Jayden will receive an assessment at Bristol Children’s Hospital in September when he will find out whether he is eligible for the operation. But while the procedure could be free, the subsequent months of physiotherapy required post surgery would not and could cost more than £20,000 depending on his progress.
So far £22,000 has been raised by the family but more could be needed in the long run.
“I wanted to help Jayden out,” said Kieran, a former Churchfields Academy student. “I am nervous; it’s super scary but it’s important for me. I remember when I first found out Jayden couldn’t walk, I was shocked.”
At the age of one, Jayden was diagnosed with spastic diplegia, a muscle-stiffness which prevents him from standing on his legs or walking without the support of a frame.
Kieran’s mother, Donna Sheen, said she was extremely moved when her son offered to tackle the challenge for his half brother.
“I’m so proud of him,” said the 37-year-old. “He came down one morning and said he wanted to help. We got him a parachute jump for his birthday and he said he wanted to do it sponsored for Jayden. We got the ball rolling and here we are.
“Kieran has Asperger’s so this is hard for him. He is a really kind-hearted kid. Our aim is to get as much as we can to help Jayden.
“Your heart goes out to Jayden. He is such a sweetie.”
Over the past few months Jayden’s muscles have grown stiffer, which prompted doctors to inject botox in his legs and set them in plaster three weeks ago. While it made little noticeable difference for the three-year-old, the arrival of a bathtub has given him the chance to let his muscles relax in the evening and sleep through the night at last.
“It’s lovely of Kieran,” said Jayden’s mother Charlene. “When he told me I felt scared for him but I think we are more scared than he is. He has got guts. We have an appointment at the Children’s Hospital on September 19 to find out if Jayden is eligible but we assume he is because everybody in Swindon told us he was.
“We have raised £22,000 so if we don’t have to pay for the operation, this will go to the physio. From what I’ve heard from other people £22,000 might go quickly. I’ve spoken to people who spent £6,000 on physio in two months.
“I heard that now it’s on the NHS we might not have to wait until Jayden turns four so it could happen a lot quicker. It’s daunting but it would be so good for him.
“The older they are the harder it can be to bounce back.”