A WEARSIDE charity is backing a fund-raising drive inspired by a brave schoolboy with a rare condition.
Four-year-old Callum Kelly, from Oxclose, Washington, has been diagnosed with a form of autism which means he cannot tolerate solids or liquids in the normal way.
While his pals tuck into treats such as chips, chocolate and ice cream, the youngster has to be fed a nutrient-packed liquid through a tube into his stomach.
Moved by his bravery, his family and friends have launched a charity campaign in aid of Sunningdale School, Springwell, where he is a pupil.
Dad John, 30, who is preparing for a coast-to-coast cycle ride, said he has been overwhelmed by support for the drive, with Springboard Sunderland donating overnight accommodation, bikes, as well as the use of a minibus for the support team.
David Huntley, from the Sunderland-based training provider for young people, said: “We were more than happy to get involved. We’ve organised cycle rides like this before, so we’ve got quite a bit of experience.
“We’ve also got access to various resources and managed to get permission to use the minibus and trailer, as well as the bikes themselves.
“We also know quite a few cheap places to stay en route, so we’ve also helped to arrange that.”
As well as staff and players at Washington Colliery FC, the family has also had support from local businesses, including pubs, shops and restaurants.
The three-day cycle ride from Cumbria to Sunderland will start on August 10.
“I’ve done a bit of coaching at Washington Colliery FC, where John plays, and that’s how we got to hear about it,” said David.
“It’s for a great cause and we were more than happy to get involved.”
John, who works in sales, said his son had coped well with several operations and was responding to treatment.
Callum, who is cared for round the clock by mum Rachael, 26, is also enjoying school life and has been quick to pick up sign language.
“We really appreciate all the support we are being given,” said John.
For more information about the charity drive or to make a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.