He first learned to take small steps and then wanted to walk 10 km to raise just £500. His determination helped him gather more than he had expected.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 8, 2020. It has since been updated.
Tony Hudgell, a brave 5-year-old from West Malling, Kent, walked 10kms and raised £1,270,108 million (at the time of publication) for the National Health Service after getting inspired by Captain Tom Moore.
Wondering what's special about Tony? Well, the young boy had both his legs amputated after he suffered horrific abuse as a baby from his birth parents, reported the Daily Mail.
The young braveheart had vowed to walk every day using his prosthetic legs and crutches and raise £500 money for Evelina London Children's Hospital, the hospital which had saved his life. To everyone's shock, he succeeded in raising £310,000 within a week.
According to the fundraiser page, in 2014, Tony was just 41 days old when he was rushed to a hospital with numerous injuries, which would have been very painful to endure for a boy of his's age. He suffered from dislocations, multiple fractures toxic-shock, and sepsis.
The blunt trauma to face lead to multiple-organ failure to the point that he has hand issues and is deaf in the left ear. The infection led to a missing ball joint and his left hip got dislocated. Relying on life support and just seconds away from death, the valiant young boy showed everyone that his desire to live was stronger than anyone had imagined.
Unfortunately due to the grave injuries, both his legs had to amputated. Tony lost his legs but his spirit was still intact. Mark and Paula Hudgell adopted him and took him under their care after he was discharged from the hospital at four months, reported Standard UK.
Paula, 52, is a proud adoptive mom of Tony. She told the Mirror, "His start in life was just unimaginable but he has come so far. For a really long time, we didn’t know how he was going to be."
The couple had adopted Tony a year after fostering him. Believing the medics who had treated him, the couple was sure that their son wouldn't be able to lead a normal life, ever, but he surprised them. “Originally, I was told he wouldn’t sit, crawl, talk or walk – but he’s reached all those milestones. Nothing is an obstacle to him. If he wants to do it he will find his own way to do it.”
It hasn't been too long since Tony took his first steps with his artificial legs fitted earlier this year. Decorated with images of his favorite cartoon characters, Batman and Joker, he spent the lockdown learning to walk, reported the Daily Mail.
"Tony has been trying so hard with his crutches and it's grueling for him," said Paula explaining Tony's difficulties in getting used to the prosthetic and crutches. "But then he saw Captain Tom on the news and said 'Look, he's like me!'"
Today I completed my final 10 laps, and although the mission is complete - I am going to keep on going.— Captain Tom Moore (@captaintommoore) April 16, 2020
The donations stand at 15.5 MILLION pounds - wow.
Thank you all - now let's continue to support our NHS!
Images by Emma Sohl - Capture The Light Photography#walkwithtom pic.twitter.com/UhDmUD3HCO
Second World War hero Captain Tom had recently completed his charity walk and had managed to inspire many disabled children and adults. Tony is one of them.
His courage and the wish to express his gratitude towards the hospital got him appreciation from everyone, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, top TV presenters Ant and Dec, and Chelsea’s Spanish skipper Cesar Azpilicueta, reported the Mirror.
British Paralympic long-jumper Stefanie Reid, 35, who has a prosthetic leg, also encouraged Tony through a chat. Explaining the event, Paula said, "When we had the chat with Stef, he wanted to show her his legs, then she held hers up. It was great for him to see what you can achieve and he was very impressed by how far she could jump! I think it shows him that you can achieve anything.”
The Evelina London Children's Hospital also thanked him through Twitter. "We have been overwhelmed to see the support for Tony as he takes on his own 10K to support our hospital," the post read. "Words cannot express our gratitude and admiration for this incredibly brave boy."
We have been overwhelmed to see the support for Tony as he takes on his own 10K to support our hospital.— Evelina London (@EvelinaLondon) June 8, 2020
Words cannot express our gratitude and admiration for this incredibly brave boy.
Thank you so much @paula_hudgell.❤️
Here's how you can support ➡️ https://t.co/WxR5b4EKS5 https://t.co/OFWXHIldTZ
Tony, a fan of Chelsea, is looking forward to starting frame football. According to his mother, the young resolute boy has shown an immense passion for sports. He loves defying everyone's expectations and has already tried wheelchair gymnastics. He also likes horse-riding, trampolining and swimming. “He’s only young but with his determination, I wouldn’t be surprised if he followed in their footsteps in the Paralympics," said Paula and added, “He likes to win and he’s very competitive,” reported the Mirror.
Captain Moore and his family congratulated Tony on the successful completion of his walk for a cause, reported People. "Well done Tony. Haven't you done well," said Moore congratulating the young boy.
According to Daily Mail, Paula and Mark brought their son's abusers - birth parents Jody Simpson and Tony Smith - to justice in February 2018. They were found guilty at Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, of child cruelty and causing or allowing serious harm to a child and handed maximum jail terms of 10 years.