a WHEELCHAIR bound teenager has swum with dolphins on a ‘life changing’ dream holiday to America.
Ellie Harper, from Edenthorpe, was picked from hundreds of brave children who applied to charity Dreamflight to go on the ten-day trip to Disney World in Orlando.
Ellie, 13, who is in year eight at Danum Academy, has had quadriplegic cerebral palsy since she was born ten weeks premature and has undergone ten major operations so far to help reduce her pain.
After her most recent operation to correct a sidewards curve in her spine, Ellie was told she had been awarded a place on the trip, where she was accompanied by a team of nurses, physiotherapists and volunteers.
She said: “It’s changed my life because now I know anything able bodied people can do, I can do too.
“I have so many fantastic memories; my favourites are going on the third biggest roller coaster in Florida and swimming with dolphins which were out of this world.”
Claire Tripathi, physiotherapist at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, nominated Ellie for the holiday.
She said: “Ellie has been through a tough year, but regardless of everything she always remains positive and never stops smiling.
“She is an inspiration to work with, and I wanted to nominate her so she could have an amazing holiday like she deserves.”
In total 192 children went on the holiday thanks to Dreamflight, with them gaining some independence by leaving their parents at home.
Ellie’s mum Lesley Pitkin, who also has a daughter Gracie, four, said: “When we found out Ellie had been successful and would be going on the flight we laughed and cried.
“It was such a precious moment in her life that I will treasure forever, she deserves this so much,
“I’m a very proud mum to have such a brave daughter and I’m so grateful that her physio thought so too.”
Ellie is treated by specialists in neurology, spinal, orthopaedic and physiotherapy at the children’s trust and will need treatment for the rest of her life.