Skates on to help boy fight for survival

Gemma Nelson, Melannie Meeham (foreground) were joined by their friends on roller skates to skate all the way from South Shields to Roker, raising cash for her son Jack Bard.

Gemma Nelson, Melannie Meeham (foreground) were joined by their friends on roller skates to skate all the way from South Shields to Roker, raising cash for her son Jack Bard.

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SPEEDY fund-raisers got on their skates to help a little boy in his fight for survival.

Gemma Nelson, 29, from Ryhope, led a sponsored skate to raise money for her son Jack Baird.

The two-year-old has the deadly Sanfilippino Syndrome which gradually destroys his brain function and physical ability.

Jack is not expected to live through his teens, but his loving family have found a glimmer of hope in a new drug trial.

Along with 19 other children, Jack has been selected to take part in the trial at Manchester Children’s Hospital, but they need to raise £580,000 to fund the treatment.

Thousands have flooded in for the cause since the Echo highlighted the family’s fund-raising drive.

The latest event saw mum-of-two Gemma and friends skate seven miles from South Shields to the Queen Vic pub in Roker.

She said: “Everybody managed to finish, but you don’t realise how tough seven miles is. I was willing myself on for Jack.

“My friend, Melanie Meehan, has held sponsored skates before and we thought it would be a fun way to raise money for Jack.

“We’re not sure how much we’ve raised yet as there is still money coming in, but we’re so overwhelmed with how lovely people have been.”

Fund-raising events have been held across the city to help Jack’s plight including a bag pack at Iceland in Ryhope.

Future events include a charity football match at Silksworth Cricket Club on October 25 and a Halloween party at The Village Tavern in Ryhope.

Jack, a Sunningdale Nursery pupil, is gradually deteriorating before his family’s eyes but they hope that the new drug may halt the tragic genetic disease’s progress.

Gemma said: “This treatment is known to work and is literally ready now.” To donate, visit www.shareagift.com/jack.