Doncaster schoolgirl Holly’s walking challenge

Holly Hargrave who was born with Spina Bifida Occulta

Holly Hargrave who was born with Spina Bifida Occulta

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A determined youngster born with a debilitating spinal condition is about to take on her toughest challenge.

When Holly Hargrave was born, she was diagnosed with Spina Bifida Occulta, a spinal deformity that harmed her chances of ever being able to walk.

But at seven-years-old, Holly, who lives in Doncaster, has conquered the Three Peaks, the Yorkshire Dales and she’s about to take on The Children’s Hospital Charity’s 60km Virtual Stampede challenge.

“Holly has been under the care of Sheffield Children’s Hospital her whole life,” said mum, Carol. “She had to go through a lot of physiotherapy because of her spine and she was a really late walker. The elation we felt when she took her first steps at 20 months was overwhelming. We really didn’t think it would ever be something she would be able to do and now she’s climbing mountains!”

Carol added: “The treatment Holly has received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital has always been brilliant,”

“But what really pushed us to join in with the Stampede is the fact that the hospital saved her life this year, after an underlying infection in her bladder developed into sepsis.”

“She was so brave,” said Holly’s father Andrew.

“She had to have tubes up her nose and cannulas put in without much aesthetic. She barely even cried – she’s incredible.”

“We were told by the doctors that if we had come in four hours later, Holly would have died,” Carol added.

Holly was admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital on February 9 this year, where she spent nine days fighting for her life. She fell ill just five weeks before the family were due to fly to Florida for the trip of a lifetime.

“We were there with our little girl full of tubes and wires, waiting to be operated on, and we said to the doctor, ‘Our little girl wants to go to Florida in five weeks please, please do what you can for her’. We found out that she was okay to fly just a few days before the trip,” said Andrew.

He further added: “I remember when we got to Florida, we stood on the main street, looking up at the castle and we couldn’t believe we were there. Holly had a badge on that said ‘I’m celebrating’. All the princesses wanted to know what it was that she was celebrating and Holly said ‘just being here’. They made such a fuss out of her.”

Holly said: “I’m doing this walk for the children’s hospital to help other people get better. I think I’ll do more than 60k. People should help out because children that are really really poorly – they should help get better.” Virtual Stampede can be completed anytime, anywhere, and everyone who completes the challenge will receive a limited edition medal.