Burgess Hill woman’s walking challenge aims to raise funds to help four-year-old walk

A Burgess Hill woman is taking on a 40-mile fundraising challenge in support of a four-year-old boy.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 3:11 pm
Updated Monday, 20th January 2020, 9:47 am
Ned, James, Gabe, Stephanie, and Anna
Ned, James, Gabe, Stephanie, and Anna

Anna Grace Taylor is raising funds for Reigate youngster Gabe Whitelock, who has cerebral palsy and needs intensive treatment in the UK and USA to help him walk.

A friend of Gabe’s family who met the Whitelocks through Burgess Hill InChoir leader Karen O’Connor, Anna hopes that the ‘40 for 40’ challenge will raise £4,000 to go towards the four-year-old’s treatment.

Anna, who also has cerebral palsy, aims to walk 40 miles in the 40 weeks between Christmas and her 40th birthday in September, 2020.

As she uses crutches and sometimes a wheelchair, Anna’s fundraising walk is particularly challenging, and she plans to walk half a mile at a time with her family and friends.

Anna’s cerebral palsy affects both her legs, and she took her first independent steps at six years old.

She said: “My health has been a challenge over the years and as a teenager I was told that it takes me around four times more energy to walk than the average person.

“However, I am very grateful for my mobility and am determined to increase my strength and fitness.

“While contemplating my 40th birthday in September 2020, I have been inspired to help Gabe, a very special little boy, who also has cerebral palsy, to give him best chance of walking, too.”

Anna is being supported in her challenge by Gabe and his mum Stephanie, dad James, and six-year-old brother Ned.

Gabe was born with congenital cytomegalovirus, and his cerebral palsy is a result of this infection.

Stephanie said: “Gabe is our shining star who brings so much joy to us and his amazing big brother Ned.

“He loves singing, shapes, the alphabet and numbers – counting to ten at the top of his voice!

“We want Gabe to be given the chance to overcome his difficulties and be able to walk to access the world just as other children can.”

The Napa centre in Boston offers ground-breaking treatment for children with cerebral palsy, and Gabe’s family said this treatment will be crucial in helping him fulfil his potential.

Stephanie said: “We were lucky enough to raise the funds for Gabe to attend the Napa centre in July and by the end of the three weeks he stood up by himself and took three steps independently.

“This gave us so much hope for him walking by himself one day. We know he can do it and we want to go back out to the centre next year before Gabe starts school to give him another big boost to his physical strength and his confidence.”

To find out more, or to donate, visit Anna’s GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/4gabesgoal.