Tears were flowing at Shriner’s hospital Tuesday, when a 5-year-old boy stood on his own for the very first time.
Bryce Santoro, of Lakewood Ranch, was born with spina bifida, and was given a new brace that made it possible for him to stand.
Within seconds of meeting Bryce, you’ll notice his smile. As he and his family entered the hospital in Tampa, he wore a shirt that read, “Be Awesome Today.” Bryce has a bright personality despite being paralyzed from the waist down.
Born with spina bifida and club feet, he has undergone years of treatment at Shriner's hospital. His father, Jesse, said he had to learn about the birth defect.
"I thought I was a pretty tough guy back then," Jesse said. "But seeing him and knowing that I couldn't do anything at all to help him in that situation, was the roughest thing in my life."
Bryce was placed into his new fitted brace, in camouflage color, and his father helped him steady his legs as he stood for the first time.
Family members in the hospital room were in tears.
“Look how tall you are,” said Jesse.
Bryce hugged his little brother upright.
“Come here, buddy,” said Bryce.
Bryce told his dad it was the “best day ever.”
"For like four years I prayed that there was a God, and he would take my good legs, and give them to him,” said Jesse.
Bryce’s stepmother, Danielle, cried happy tears, knowing the brace will open new doors for him.
"I'm just excited for him, I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” said Danielle.
Bryce wants to get used to the braces and eventually be able to kick a soccer ball.
"Nothing's going to stop him now," said Jesse.
Orthopedic specialists say with therapy, Bryce will learn how to walk in the braces.
He starts kindergarten in Lakewood Ranch this year.
If you know of a child who could benefit from Shriner’s Hospital for Children Tampa, please call 813-866-7740.