HEART UNIT campaigners are putting on their walking shoes to raise money for a charity – inspired by a Linthwaite boy.
Around 25 people are teaming up for a 25-mile trek from Linthwaite to Leeds General Infirmary, after being touched by the plight of a four-year-old living in their street.
Joel Bearder, of Banks Road, was saved by surgeons at the children’s heart unit at LGI after he was born with a serious heart condition.
The challenge – on May 20 – will raise money for vital equipment at the specialised centre, whilst celebrating the close proximity of care for local heart children.
The move comes as the LGI unit is one of several children’s heart centres facing the axe under a national review.
The outcome – expected later this year – could force seriously ill children to travel to Newcastle, Liverpool or Birmingham for treatment.
Organiser Chris Green, one of Joel’s neighbours, said: “I have got two healthy kids myself and hearing about Joel just made me realise how fortunate we were.
“I decided to do it on my birthday and I thought there was only going to be me doing it. Now, more and more neighbours have decided to join me because we have all heard about Joel’s condition and want to help.”
The walk – which will follow the A62 Leeds Road – is expected to take around eight hours to complete.
It comes after Chris, 30, took part in a parachute jump last year to raise £2,500 for LGI’s Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.
His wife Vicki also teamed up with Joel’s mum Gaynor to organise a charity ball last May, which raised almost £10,000.
Tickets have already sold out for the same event this year on May 11 at the Cedar Court Hotel, Ainley Top.
Chris added: “We raised about £12,000 last year for the cause and we’re hoping to smash a target of £15,000 this year.
“It is such a worthwhile cause.”
Gaynor, who is also taking part in the walk, said she had been touched by the local support her family has received.
“As a heart mum, I find it quite heart-warming that people are prepared to go to such lengths to support Joel and his little friends,” she said. “It is brilliant to know that so many people in our street are rooting for us and indeed the entire heart unit.” To sponsor the walkers visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/chsfwalk