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Utah 5-Year-Old With Severe Cerebral Palsy Walks Independently For First Time

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah –  Since birth, a Utah 5-year-old learned to get around without full use of her legs. But a radical surgery and hard work are creating new possibilities.

She’s now hoping to be able to walk on her own.

Bailey Wilson, age 5, has a wish.

“She said, ‘Mom, I want to be a ballerina one day.’ And it makes me so happy to think that she could really do that,” said Catrina Wilson, Bailey’s mom, who lives in Cottonwood Heights.

One of her daughter’s favorite things is her jewelry box. When she opens it, music plays and a tiny ballerina twirls.

“Bailey will sometimes sit and watch this sometimes and move her arms the same way.”

When we first introduced you to Bailey Wilson last December, her dreams seemed far away. She was born prematurely with cerebral palsy, which caused severe tightness and painful muscle spasms in her legs. But in January, an innovative surgery in St. Louis was a success.

“She wiggled her toes for the first time, which we have never seen. I cried a lot while we were there,” Wilson said.

Then, the hard work of recovery.

Jennifer Janowicz, a physical therapist at Shriners Hospitals for Children, said, “A lot of strengthening, which is a huge important aspect after the surgery she’s just had, and just some standing balance.”

They worked in a therapy pool, at home, and at Shriners.

“We started out on kind of a walking map. There were stickers and footprints so she knew where her crutches went and where her feet went,” Janowicz said.

RELATED: Innovative Surgery Could Change Utah Girl’s Life

Which has led to many firsts, like walking with canes for the first time; trying to hit her biggest target of all: walking independently.

Wilson said, “She’s a trooper and she really, really wants to walk.”

But it’s not easy.

“It’s a lot of work, four hours of therapy plus the hour, hour and half we’re doing with her daily.”

And there are bumps along the way.

“I kind of hold my breath a little bit. She is so determined,” Wilson said.

After a little positive thinking, “I can do this, yes,” said Bailey Wilson, four months after her surgery, the big moment arrived. She took her first independent steps at the hospital during therapy.

“I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, she did it!’ And her reaction was so precious, too, she just let out a big, ‘Woop! I’m walking by myself!’”

Bailey said, “I walked, by myself!”

Wilson said, “I cried like the ugly cry, full-on. I was so excited. It’s a little emotional. It’s been a long time in the works.”

And the work continues, preparing Bailey for what she hopes one day will be her debut.

“Watching her play when she thinks nobody’s watching, watching her ballerina dance and kind of holding her hands the same way, I have no doubt if that’s what she really wants to do that she’ll do it,” Wilson said.

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