Video: 7-year-old completes triathlon and organises fun run to raise cash for poorly friend
Most seven-year-olds would choose to spend a sunny bank holiday playing with their friends but, yesterday, an inspirational youngster swam, biked and sprinted his way to the finish line of a challenging triathlon to raise funds for an ill friend.
Ella-Grace was diagnosed with the rare vein of Galen malformation a week before her first birthday in 2008.
The condition means that pressurised blood from the main artery leading to the brain escapes unchecked into thinner walled veins, leading them to expand close to breaking point.
The family, who live in Hevingham near Aylsham, were initially led to believe the condition was inoperable but two doctors in New York and France, where Ella-Grace was originally treated, developed a procedure that changed this.
The operation on July 23 in New York will be the youngster’s eighth so far and will hopefully be her last.
Since Ella-Grace’s last operation two years ago, the St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School pupil has been stable.
The condition affects 10 to 12 children in the UK a year.
After seeing six-year-old family friend Ella-Grace Honeyman – who suffers from a rare life-threatening brain condition – on the news, Owen Gibbs also decided to organise a fun run at the UEA Sportspark to help the Honeyman family afford Ella-Grace’s next risky operation.
Yesterday, he braved a 100m swim, two-mile bike ride and one-mile run in the sun, before encouraging his classmates to pull on their trainers and join in him a fun run.
Owen’s mum Vicky Gibbs, 33, said that she was “extremely proud” of her son.
“He has helped encourage all his friends to come and join in and he’s made posters and stood up in assemblies,” she said.
His proud mum added that Owen, who lives at home with mum, dad and three-year-old brother Austin on Edgefield Close in Old Catton, has been involved with fundraising in the past.
“I think he is now at the age where he realises he can make a difference and help people,” she said.
A tired but enthusiastic Owen said that while he was doing the triathlon he was “thinking of Ella-Grace”.
“I wanted to help her, she needs an operation in New York that’s going to cost a lot of money,” he added.
Ella-Grace’s mum, Laura Honeyman, said that Owen’s efforts were “just amazing”.
“It’s brilliant and it says a lot about his family and gives a lot of faith to children – he was so keen and he just wanted to go on and do it and he has just blitzed it,” she added.
Although fundraising is going well, the family still need £11,000 to afford the operation.
“It’s still a big task, but I don’t feel as daunted as I did before. Without people like Owen’s support Ella-Grace wouldn’t be here today. This condition 20 years ago – there was nobody surviving it.”
Mrs Gibbs estimated that the fundraising day could have raised around £800 to £1000.
For more information or to donate to Ella-Grace, visit www.lifeforellagracefund.co.uk
Do you have a fundraising story? Contact Lauren Cope on firstname.lastname@example.org