Callum’s op appeal passes £40k mark

Phil Smith and Matt Atkinson who are running the length of Hadrian's Wall - 84 miles - in 20 hours to raise money for Callum as part of Reason to Run.
Phil Smith and Matt Atkinson who are running the length of Hadrian's Wall - 84 miles - in 20 hours to raise money for Callum as part of Reason to Run.

CALLUM Brown is edging ever closer to realising his dream of being able to walk, thanks to the fundraising efforts of his family and scores of well-wishers.

The eight-year-old and his parents Sharon and Neil, of Derwent Road in Seaton Sluice, are aiming to raise money to pay for surgery in the US that they hope will enable him to walk unaided.

The Browns originally set themselves a target of £50,000 to pay for Callum’s pioneering operation in Missouri, but they have had to revise that figure up to £70,000 to take the cost of physiotherapy after his return to Northumberland into account.

They are now drawing up plans to hold three triathlon-themed fundraising events organised by Great Britain triathlete Joanna Reed.

A competition at Tynemouth Golf Club took the family’s fundraising total past the £40,000 mark – more than halfway towards their new target.

Reason to Run is the first in the series of events, to be followed by Reason to Ride and Reason to Swim. It will see two runners go the length of Hadrian’s Wall in just one day.

Matt Atkinson, 41, and Phil Smith, 36, will be running the 84 miles from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend in 20 hours overnight on Saturday, July 7.

For Matt, it will not only be a feat of endurance but also a personal challenge as he had been told by doctors that he would never run again.

He spent six years learning how to walk after fracturing his ankle in 17 places and is now determined to put his fitness to the test.

“I want to be able to prove the doctors wrong, and this is the ultimate challenge to do that,” he said.

“I work with Callum’s grandma, so we found out about his cause from that, and we wanted to do what we could to help.

“I completed the Great North Run last year, which was an achievement, and at the weekend we did half of the wall, but I have never done anything like this in my life.

“It is a big thing to get through mentally, but as long as my ankle holds up, I am sure we can do it.

“Phil said it would be the toughest marathon I will ever do – and we will be doing it three times over – but I know I can do it.”

Matt and Phil will finish at the wall’s end at Segedunum on Sunday, July 8.

The operation Callum, a cerebral palsy sufferer, hopes to have is called a selective dorsal rhizotomy.

Mum Sharon said: “We are delighted that so many people are getting behind the cause and helping Callum.

“The target is in our sights now. We just need to raise enough money, so that we are able to spend some of it on his rehab so he can walk and be strong. It’s all to get the end goal.”

Reason to Ride will see 25 cyclists take on a 200-mile ride from Edinburgh to Newcastle in 24 hours on Sunday, July 8, to raise further funds for the cause.

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