FIREFIGHTERS are setting out to help a schoolboy walk his way to a normal life.
Five-year-old Thomas Brennan hopes to undergo an operation to correct a problem he calls “crazy legs” caused by spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
The condition makes it difficult and painful for Thomas to walk and he has to use a wheelchair most of the time.
His family must raise £48,000 to cover the cost of the procedure in the US.
The campaign has raised £15,000 so far and mum Jodie Bussey fears time to raise the amount will run out as Thomas grows too old for the surgery.
Among those helping out is a team of firefighters from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.
Their C2C bike ride on July 16, will cover 130miles in two days as they ride from Whitehaven to Roker.
The event was set up after Dianne Waggot, wife of watch manager Simon, saw the poster appealing for help at the gym she uses in Durham.
Simon has recruited colleagues Gary Tough, Neale Bulbeck and Andy Burns, also based at Seaham Fire Station, Allan Hobson, who worked there before he moved to Durham’s station and Mick Hopper, who is based in Peterlee.
They invited Thomas to meet the real-life versions of his hero Fireman Sam and show him around the station.
Simon said: “I’ve been based here a year and I thought about doing something with the other firefighters because one’s just come back from a career break, and I wanted something for us do together.
“When my wife was at the community centre, there was a letter and a photo of Thomas and he was wearing a firefighter’s helmet on one of the Durham appliances.
“We’re trying to raise as much as possible.”
The fund-raisers will be given transport support by the Fire and Rescue Sports and Social Club.
Thomas’s operation – selective dorsal rhizotomy – is pencilled in for August.
Jodie, 29, who is also mum to Eve, six, and lives in Ushaw Moor, said: “He’s an amazing little boy. He doesn’t let anything bother him, but he’s in a lot of pain. It’s all he’s known since birth.
“This operation for Thomas will make him be what others class as normal, he’ll be able to walk and run without support.”
Donations to the C2C challenge team can be dropped in to Seaham Fire Station, on the corner of Princess Road and Parkside Crescent, or via http://www.justgiving.com/help-thomas-reach-the-moon-and-stars, the page set up by Jodie.