A DAD pedalled with passion for a charity which rallied round when his baby boy fell ill.
Eight-month-old Joseph Fucile was guest of honour as dad Darren set out on a cycling challenge in aid of the Sick Children’s Trust.
The tot was just 17 weeks old when Darren and wife Janine rushed him to Sunderland Royal suffering from sickness and breathing difficulties.
After a fortnight, he was transferred to intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle, where doctors continued to carry out tests to try to pinpoint why he had become sick.
During his month-long stay, he spent time on a ventilator but was well enough to be discharged and is now being cared for at home in Ashbrooke.
Efforts are still being carried out to diagnose his condition, with Joseph fed using a tube because of reflux problems.
Joseph and Janine visited the Nike Clearance shop at Dalton Park, where Darren is manager, as he and other members of staff began to cover the distance from Land’s End to John O’ Groats on an exercise bike.
The trust supported Darren, 38, Janine, 37, a data manager for St Aidan’s School, and their daughter Alicia, 12, a pupil at Southmoor School, by offering accommodation at Crawford House, near the RVI.
Darren said the trust helped the family cope when they were faced with the upset of Joseph’s illness and took away the stress and expense of hotels so they could stay close to the youngster,
He said: “I knew nothing about this charity until we needed it. It’s a real must for some people.
“All the staff have been fantastic, really behind it. We’re a close team anyway and they really have been up for it.”
The store aimed to cover more than 55 miles of the 950-mile route.
Efforts from sister stores across the country aim to raise a total of £10,000 through the cycle.
Caroline O’Doherty, regional fund-raiser for the 30-year-old trust, said: “We are delighted with the support Darren and everyone at Dalton Park and Nike has shown our charity.
“What started with 12 Nike outlet stores in the North and that has grown to 25 throughout the UK and Scotland.”
The charity needs to raise £1million a year to run the house, along with six others around the UK.
Anyone who would like to donate to the fund can call in at the Dalton Park shop.