A Cardiff woman is taking on a 24-hour walking challenge to help raise funds for her friend’s seven-year-old son.
Nia Thomson, 38, a production manager with the National Theatre Wales met Kasia Thompson, 38, at Freshers Week at the University of Aberystwyth in 2001 when they both joined the karate club.
Kasia’s son Leon, 7, from Codsall, West Midlands, lives with cerebral palsy, global development delay and sensory processing issues as well as being non-verbal.
Over the last few years the Thompson family and their supporters have raised over £80,000 for a selective dorsal rhizotomy operation carried out at Alder Hey Hospital in 2018, as well as a lightweight wheelchair, sensory equipment and ongoing physiotherapy.
Starting on December 12, Nia will be walking from Penarth Pier to Penarth Head, over and over, for 24 hours. She hopes to raise at least £2,000.
Nia said: ‘Kasia and I met at university and have been great friends ever since. She and her family and friends work so hard to raise money for Leon, obviously I want to do what I can to help too as Leon needs a new trike for his physical therapy.’
‘I’ve been training hard – walking, running, cycling as well as one on one sessions with my personal trainer Ryan Evans at 121 Motivation. Ryan and I came up with the challenge which we have called ‘Moving Mountains for Leon’. I will walk the same hill repeatedly, ticking off the comparative UK mountain heights as we go and hopefully more! Ryan will be supporting me through the night time hours and many friends and will be joining me for sections of the daytime.’
‘I plan to start at 2pm so that, if lock down rules allow, Kasia and Leon can come along to support the final few hours on the Sunday morning and help me finish the 24 hours.’
Kasia said: ‘Thanks to an amazing amount of fundraising for Leon, he was able to have SDR surgery at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in October 2018. It went very well and Leon’s quality of life has improved so much that he amazes us with his progress every day.
‘The hard work continues and Leon has physio and speech therapy every week through his school and privately. Our goal for Leon has always been for him to gain a level of independence that will see him be able to do as much as he can on his own. This is a difficult ask of him as his cerebral palsy affects him so much but thanks to the money raised we can provide some assistance with equipment and pay for his ongoing therapy.
‘Alongside these purchases the intensive physio Leon needs is to help to retrain his brain from the years of using his spasticity to move. The difference for Leon is a lifetime of using hoists and assistance to the possibility of him being able to get himself out of his chair!’
Charity Tree of Hope is supporting the family in their fundraising efforts. Tree of Hope helps families to fundraise for children’s operations, therapies and equipment that are unobtainable via the NHS and provides access to a registered charity providing more effective and efficient ways of fundraising, unlike traditional crowdfunding. CEO Gill Gibb said: ‘We’re delighted to be supporting the Thompson family and wish them all the best in reaching their fundraising target.’
To donate to Leon’s fund, visit https://www.treeofhope.org.uk/leonsfirststeps/