A FORMER marine is helping a cancer-battling youngster.
Ex-serviceman Chris Forth, of Moorside in Sunderland, is taking on the 140-mile cycle challenge to raise funds for neuroblastoma sufferer Leighton Cook.
Five-year-old Leighton, of Merryweather Rise, Tunstall Village, was first diagnosed with the illness in June 2010.
Gruelling chemo and radiotherapy sessions at the RVI in Newcastle followed as doctors worked to rid his body of the cancer.
Chris and pal Tysen Carthy will take on the journey this weekend.
They will be helping to raise cash in case Leighton relapses and needs specialist stem-cell treatment.
Generous members of the public and friends have already helped swell the fund to more than £20,000.
“We can’t thank them enough for this,” said Leighton’s shopworker mum Lynzie, 35, who is married to Dave, 54.
“There aren’t a great deal of people who would be willing to do something like this for us, so we really appreciate it.”
Despite being in remission from the illness for almost a year, the family have been worried that Leighton, who goes to New Silksworth Primary School, could relapse after he became unwell recently.
“We’ve had a really hard time of it lately as Leighton has been backwards and forwards to the hospital,” added Lynzie, also mum to Taylor, 14, Grant, 13, Kieron, nine and Ethan, seven.
“He’s been complaining of headaches and his temperature’s been up and down.
“He’s also lost a few days of school here and there. But he’s doing all right.
She added: “He’s in remission, but people think that’s the end of it and it isn’t.”
Chris and Tysen will set off on the ride with an early 3am start this Saturday.
To donate towards the lads’ effort call Lynzie on 07833476152.