CHEEKY two-year-old Joel Bearder will be cheering on family friend Sonia Bardell when she takes part in her first half-marathon later this month.
Teacher Sonia is raising money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at Leeds General Infirmary where he has been treated since he was born with a major heart defect.
Sonia, a geography teacher at Colne Valley Specialist Arts College, is taking part in the Great North Run from Gateshead to Newcastle on Sunday September 20.
But before then the toddler faces an important date of his own.
Joel is due to be seen by experts at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) next week to decide on the next course of treatment.
More major surgery is likely.
Joel’s mum Gaynor, of Banks Road, Linthwaite, said: “Sonia is a good friend and has been with us all the way since Joel was born, his diagnosis and through the fantastic care he has received at LGI.
“Myself, husband Antony and Joel’s big brother Lucas will all be cheering for her on the day.”
Sonia, a 33-year-old mum of two who lives in Meltham, took up cycling 18 months ago to get fit and started running in January this year to prepare for the event.
She is hoping to complete the 13.1 mile course in two hours ten minutes and raise lots of cash into the bargain for charity.
Cheeky Joel was born a healthy 6lbs 14oz at Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax on July 16, 2007.
But as the family was preparing to take him home they discovered he had a heart murmur. He was given only two days to live, but defied medics and celebrated his second birthday last month.
Joel had heart surgery and has been on nine lots of medication. Each time doctors told his parents he would not survive
He will now need further surgery and next week he will have a major review at LGI.
His family have already raised more than £3,500 to thank the hospital for the treatment and care he has received.
Gaynor said: “He’s a bit up and down at the moment and is just recovering from an ear infection. He picks things up really easily, but we are so proud with how far he has come.
“I really do feel like everything he has done is a miracle.
“The doctors said he wouldn’t survive; that he wouldn’t have a birthday and he has and I feel so proud of everything he has achieved.”
Joel’s family and Sonia are asking people to sponsor her on the run and anyone who wants to help can log on to www.justgiving.com/Sonia-Bardell