Every inch an 11-year-old boy, Bronson Sens was testing boundaries, bouncing against a living room couch as his mother spoke of his physical challenges.
"We're obviously trying to keep him moving and motivated," said Kim Becker.
Bronson was featured by Global TV during last year's Variety Telethon, the primary fundraiser for the children's charity. Having benefited since then from equipment provided by Variety, he'll be back on TV again for an update when the 48 thShow of Hearts airs later this month.
"When he was three, he acquired encephalopathy, which is essentially a flu in the cerebellum, the core part of the brain, so it's just his motor skills that are affected," Becker said.
The family had only recently settled in Kamloops eight years ago when Bronson began to show recurring flu-like symptoms. By the time they got him to the emergency ward, he had lost his ability to function normally.
"He said he felt like his legs were broken," his mom recalled.
The neuromuscular condition means that Bronson has to learn to walk and talk all over again. He was showing off his progress - taking a step and expressing his enthusiasm for the telethon experience - when The Daily News visited. His mom rewarded him with constant praise and encouragement.
"They say he could walk again one day, but they don't know for sure," she said. "Imagine where he could be in five years. Anything can happen and I have hope. That's all I have is hope."
Encephalopathy is not a disease itself but a syndrome. Treatment may improve or reverse symptoms.
Equipment provided by Variety includes a power chair, a lift for the family's van and a walker that's kept at Bronson's school, Parkcrest elementary. They've made life easier for the whole family, since Becker doesn't have to do so much heavy lifting, while encouraging Bronson to support his own development.
"We're tying to get him independent and motivated," she said.
They're one of more than 1,200 families that received Variety grants last year. Funds go towards a variety of needs - neonatal intensive care, lifesaving mediations, physical therapies, communication devices and educational bursaries as well as mobility aids.
The Show of Hearts Telethon takes place from Jan. 25, 7 p.m., to Jan. 26, 5:30 p.m. and will feature performances by Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Elton John and Cirque du Soleil.
To make a pledge, call 310-KIDS or visit variety.bc.ca.
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