A CALIFORNIA monster-truck tycoon has stepped in to help a Rawtenstall youngster undergo life-changing surgery in America by offering to pay for his flights.
Los Angeles businessman Steve Towers, who was born in Bacup, was touched after reading eight-year-old Theo Bishop’s fundraising plight on the Lancashire Telegraph website.
He then vowed to help him reach his target by calling on haulage companies across the USA for donations.
Football-mad Theo, who cannot walk without a frame, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just 14 months old after his parents went to doctors because he was struggling to sit up.
Since October the youngster and his family have been working hard to raise £45,000 to give him the chance to walk unaided for the first time, by undergoing a procedure known as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), that is only available in America.
Mr Towers, 52, who owns the LA branch of ACME Haulage, said: “I was born in Bacup and so every week I check out what is going on in my home town online.
“When I came across Theo’s story on the Lancashire Telegraph I just thought, ‘God this kid needs a break’, so I decided to offer to pay his airfare.
“Theo seems like a lovely lad and he and his family have been working really hard to get to their total.
“I left the Valley in 1982 and this is my way of giving something back.”
Little Theo, who launched an internet appeal by recording a personal message on his web page, has the opportunity to undergo surgery in Missouri in July if his family can reach their target.
Mr Towers, a former Blackthorn School pupil, grew up in Acorn Street, Bacup.
In an email to Theo’s family the businessman told them he knew the Valley by telling them his favourite place to eat was the Rose ‘n’ Bowl, in Stacksteads.
Speaking from America, Mr Tower’s said: “I hope to do everything I can to help get Theo out to America as soon as possible.
“I am hoping that it should be within the next month to six weeks. He has waited long enough for this operation.
“I own the LA branch of an oil fuel truck carrier company, ACME haulage and we are always challenging our rival companies to raise money. I am going to make it my mission to get these companies to give donations for Theo.
“The way I see it is my life has been blessed and I want to share that by helping someone from my home town.”
Mr Tower’s sister Alison Halstead, 50, lives in Riverside Court, Whitworth.
She said: “Steve is just a really caring person. He has done really well for himself and this is his way of helping others.
“Acts of kindness like this of typical of his personality. He has lived in LA for 30 years but we are every bit as close as we were before he left.
“We speak at least three times a week.
“I had never met Theo until Steve got involved but now I have, it is very clear he is a tremendous little boy.”
Little Theo, a pupil at Balladen Primary School is provisionally booked in for the operation in July.
Since October, Theo’s family and friends have raised a massive £30,000.
His devoted mum Mandy Bishop, said: “Steven’s kindness has been unbelievable.
“It will cost about $2,000 to fly Theo to the states so this donation is more generous than we could ever of imagined.
“We honestly thought it would take about a year to get to this point.
“The reaction we have from everyone has been amazing.
“But with Steve’s help Theo could have his dream come true even sooner than planned.”
The surgery will enable Theo to put his feet flat on the floor and make it easier for him to move around.
Theo lives with his mum, dad Stuart, sister Jaime-Leigh, 20, and brother Thomas, 14, in Fall Barn Crescent, Rawtenstall.