Bikers rev-up for Blake’s �50,000 appeal
A gruelling motorcycle marathon will help to send a Dereham boy to America for life-changing surgery, helping him to walk for the first time.
The fundraising challenge, being held next month, is one of several to be organised following the launch of Blake's Wish 2 Walk appeal two weeks ago.
Blake Barley's parents, Luke and Debbie, hope to raise �50,000 by early next year so the youngster can undergo a pioneering procedure called SDR.
The cheery three-year-old was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy at the age of 23 months and relies on a walking frame to move around, to balance and to play.
Permanent stiffness – known as spasticity – in his leg muscles means he can only walk on tiptoes and must wear uncomfortable leg splints 23 hours a day to force his heels down to the floor.
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Blake also suffers chronic pain in his legs, back and hips, and doctors have warned that he will need a wheelchair by the time he starts at Toftwood Junior School in September.
The appeal has met with a phenomenal response so far, with a number of Dereham businesses adding their support.
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Around �7,000 was raised in the first week alone – including the donation of family flights to America, worth an estimated �2,000 – and a further �3,000 has been raised this week. Among those inspired to help was 40-year-old Pat Pedlow, who has organised Wheels to Walk – a sponsored motorcycle ride that will cover seven counties in one day.
The challenge, on August 21, is expected to take around 11 hours, with riders handing out appeal leaflets wherever they stop to rest.
Mr Pedlow, whose wife Jo is headteacher at the Toftwood school, has already recruited two people to ride with him and others have now expressed interest in taking part.
'Without stops, it's going to take around six and a half hours,' the father-of-two said. 'I read about Blake on his website and I thought, rather than just donating, I would do something to generate some money.'
Mr Pedlow promoted Wheels to Walk at the school's summer fair on Friday, where Mrs Barley also had a fundraising and information stall. To find out more about the ride, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
'The motorcycle marathon is a great idea, it's something different that I would never have thought of,' she said. 'It's another way to spread Blake's message outside the county.
'The appeal has been going really well and we are still receiving some lovely cards. We are continuously overwhelmed by the public's generosity and support, including the businesses that have offered their services for free as a way of showing their support for Blake's appeal.'
The information stall raised �104 in a couple of hours and people were invited to guess the number of sweets in the jar in return for a donation.
Mrs Barley, 33, thanked Candy Cane in Dereham for supplying the sweets at half price, Birds Sport and Outdoor for donating the family's bright yellow campaign T-shirts and LF Everett for printing 600 leaflets free of charge.
l To find out more or to make a donation, click on www.blakeswish2walk.co.uk or call Mrs Barley on 01362 693452.Cheques, made payable to Blake Barley Appeal, can also be posted to 67 Stone Road, Toftwood, Dereham, NR19 1LH.