YANNE Nkurunziza, from Emmer Green, is £3,000 closer to walking on his own two feet after a successful campaign launch on Sunday.
Nine-year-old Yanne, his family and friends held a rhythmic fundraising party at South Reading Youth and Community Centre when they embarked on the £31,000 project they hope will see him have a life changing operation in New York.
Guests who showed support for the youngster, restricted to a wheelchair by Cerebral Palsy, included school friends and staff from Christ the King Catholic Primary School, local churchgoers and well-wishers who had never met the family.
Yanne's mum Josephine was touched by their generosity and said: "It went brilliantly. Even our Rwandese dancers made it safely despite their car breaking down on the way. They jumped on a train and were able to perform three times. It was a real party atmosphere!
"I was amazed at the people who turned up we hadn't met before. They had read about Yanne in the paper and donated £250. Incredible!"
Rose Defazio, is a teaching assistant at Christ the King and helps Yanne during lunchtimes. Mrs Defazio said: "Yanne is a great boy and the kids at school all rally around him. He is definitely a character."
Stuart Smith and Alison Harper, from Caversham, read about Yanne's cause in The Chronicle. Mrs Harper, 58, said: "I was touched by their need to raise the money and the example of others they are following who have had success in raising the money for the operation."
Josephine, though delighted with the start, will not get complacent and knows there is a long journey ahead. Her eldest daughter, 14-year-old Michaela, is planning to walk from Reading to Bracknell and back with three friends from Maiden Erlegh School.
Josephine said: "She will have to do some training because it is a long way but she is determined. The route has not been finalised and it could be up to 20 miles."
Yanne's family are appealing for volunteers to help raise the money to pay for the American operation. Call 0793 175 2622 to offer help and visit www.yannesjourney.org