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Mom moved to tears watching disabled son finally get to play in sea

"It was probably one of the most special moments of my life, seeing his reaction."

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By Charlotte Penketh-King via SWNS

A mom was moved to tears after her disabled son finally got to play in the sea - thanks to the use of a beach wheelchair.

Little Joey Leathwood, two, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which affects both of his arms and legs, and often the torso and face.

He suffers with very bad sensory issues and cannot stand the feel of grass, sand, sun, snow - and even throws up when placed on a fluffy rug.

Trips to the beach were impossible but thanks to a charity offering beach wheelchairs, young Joey has finally been able to enjoy the sea for the first time ever.

His proud mom, Helen Butterfield, 34, was moved to tears as she filmed her little boy squealing with excitement as the sea water washed over him and his dad, welder Tom Leathwood, 37.

Joey cannot support his body enough to sit unaided but was able to sit on the shore with the water hitting him last Friday, August 19, thanks to a wheelchair from community group Beach Ability Ingoldmells.

Mom-of-three Helen, who is Joey's full time carer and lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK, said: "It was probably one of the most special moments of my life, seeing his reaction.

"Honestly, he has never laughed so much.

"Beach Ability have given my boy the chance to experience waves and mother nature's beauty instead of feeling left out and different.

"I'm just so glad I managed to get it on camera. We will never, ever forget this day.

Joey was born prematurely at 27 weeks on December 28, 2019, weighing just 2lb 6oz and spent 12 weeks in the special care baby unit at Rotherham Hospital.

After experiencing tensions in his arms and legs, Joey was sent for an MRI scan in December 2021 which confirmed he had quadraplegic cerebral palsy affecting all his limbs.

At two-and-a-half years old, Joey cannot sit unaided and has medical equipment at home including a panda seat, standing frame, leg gators and special shoes.

He has scarring on his brain and cannot eat solid food and may need a nasal feeding tube fitted with the possibility of peg feeding through his stomach in the future.

Doctors have prepared the family for the possibility that he will never be able to walk but mom Helen is determined to do everything she can to give him the best life possible.

Due to his sensory issues, Joey cannot bear the feeling of sand on his body but the wheelchair provided by Beach Ability Ingoldmells has meant that trips to the beach are now possible for the family.

Helen said: "I'm normally here just me and the kids so I have to carry Joey and the kids carry the pushchair over the sand, and then Joey goes back in the pushchair as he won't touch the sand - he physically wretches until he throws up.

"I was unsure at first with the wheelchair as I didn't know much about them and thought there was no way it would go across the sand.

"But it was the easiest thing I've ever pushed. It was so smooth and simple to use.

"Joey hates pretty much everything from soft teddies to kisses, hugs, food, and textures - but one thing he loves is water.

"He doesn't handle well, especially with strangers, and gets so frustrated, but pop him in the bath and he is in heaven.

"So I had to give Beach Ability a go to see if he had the same love for the sea as he does a splash in the bath.

"This chair made so much difference and it was nice having a hand free to take pictures.

"It was like Joey was born to be a water baby and I'm sure his strength and determination won't stop there.

"Now I've found Beach Ability, we will be booking every time we come over here as it felt like Joey had his time instead of just watching the other kids have fun.

"He has been through so much so seeing him in the sea was the best feeling ever. He is so tiny but mighty.

"I was very emotional but they were happy tears and his video makes me cry, seeing how happy he was. The experience was perfect from start to finish."

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