A BARRY dad has pledged to ride to the end of the country in an effort to secure his young son’s walking future.
Dad-of-two Gareth Stephenson will cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End this September to raise funds for his two-year-old son Noah who, at eight months of age, contracted meningitis and had to have his lower left leg amputated to enable him to fight the virus.
The 35-year-old, who also lives with fiancée Nicki Jay and their other son Zak, four, will put all monies raised into a fund which will help towards any prosthetic legs and treatment needed that may not be funded on the NHS.
Gareth will be joined on his journey by Steve Lloyd, 37, of Barry, Dafydd Beasley, 35, Jason Shears, 39, and Dan Wood, 32.
Supporting the team throughout the 950-mile, ten day mission will be Gareth’s dad Bob, 62, and Mike Treweek, 61, who will man the mini bus kindly equipped with water from sponsors Brecon Carreg and Eat Natural Bars which will assist with the riders need to eat 17,000 calories a day.
The fundraising challenge will take in some of the UK’s most iconic tourist spots, with the team collecting souvenirs along the way for a hamper to be won in aid of the cause, from September 4 to 13.
Gareth, who has previously run the Cardiff Half Marathon, said: “We are raising money for my son Noah, who at eight months old in March 2013 contracted meningitis and very nearly lost his life. They came and said to us, “It’s not good. Expect the worst. As a result of fighting the virus, he lost circulation to his extremities and five days after getting ill we were forced to allow his lower left leg to be amputated in order for his body to fight the virus. It was quite an easy decision to be honest. There was no other option and it wasn’t doing him any good. Since that time he has also lost the tips of some of his fingers and half of four toes on his remaining foot. He spent five weeks in high dependency. In the year and half since this time he has gone from strength to strength and within six months of the terrible illness he was walking for the first time with the help of a prosthetic leg. He is now on his fourth leg as he is growing so quick and to look at him you probably wouldn't know. Nothing phases him – he’ll have a go. His balance is brilliant. We are raising funds for his future to help provide him with any specialist treatment or prosthetics that he may not get on the NHS.”
Gareth added: “I am looking forward to the sense of achievement, but the hills – my frame doesn’t lend itself to climbing. I have been told day three is the killer, but after that your body gets used to it.”
Fiancee Nicki, 39, said: “I think it’s a big challenge he’s taking on, but when he’s made up his mind to do something he will do well.”
Mum Brenda, 61, of Dinas Powys, said: “I think he’s a bit crazy and I’d love to be able to do it with him. He’ll do a good job.”
To help, visit the giving/donation page at www.gofundme.com/75d2iw or www.facebook.com/Jogle4Noah