[BRIGHTCOVE “20961956” “” “peoplenow” “auto” ]When Susan Lucci‘s daughter Liza Huber first found out in 2010 that her son Brendan had cerebral palsy, she could not have imagined he would walk a red carpet just six years later.
But Brendan got just that chance when he attended Monday’s 15th Annual Women Who Care awards luncheon, which his mother and grandmother co-hosted.
Lucci, 69, proudly told PEOPLE at the New York event: “For the first time he can stand up straight. His feet are flat on the floor.”
Brendan’s big debut comes just months after he underwent a selective dorsal rhizotomy, which involved cutting some sensory nerves in the lower spinal cord in order to make it easier for him to walk.
“It’s just really changed his life,” Huber, the Founder & CEO of Sage Spoonfuls, told PEOPLE of her son, now 7. “It’s his first time at any kind of event like this, and he’s doing a great job.”
Huber, 41, first opened up last fall about Brendan’s cerebral palsy. The former Passions star had planned to return to TV after Brendan’s birth, but Brendan “was born two months premature and was in intensive care for six weeks,” Huber told PEOPLE.
“I knew right then and there that it was going to be a game-changer for me. Life throws you surprises,” she said.
With many years and several steps behind her son (both on and off the red carpet), Monday’s event called to mind the vow Huber told PEOPLE she made to herself – and to Brendan: “I don’t ever want him to feel bad about himself. I want him to feel good and proud and celebrate the way he overcomes challenges.”