More than 150 big-hearted Highlanders are lacing up their running shoes in a giant fundraising effort to try to help a two-year-old Inverness boy walk. Runners of all backgrounds are taking part in the Baxters Loch Ness Festival of Running in a bid to raise money for specialist therapies for Sam Douglas, who was born with severe developmental delays.
The mammoth effort on 24 September is being spearheaded by Sam's godmother Jenni Donnelly and was sparked after a family friend spotted a therapist in London, who it's hoped can help the youngster take his first steps.
Jenni says: "Our friend Lynda Fraser saw a Cuevas Medek Exercises (CME) therapist on Facebook. The treatment works by helping little ones use their own centre of gravity to improve their balance, be able to sit and stand and as they develop many children are, in time, able to walk. This is our dream for Sam. Lynda said she would run the River Ness 10K for Sam – and it has just snowballed from there."
Family and friends have been able to fund one course of therapy, which saw a huge progression for Sam, who also suffers from epilepsy. But the treatment is not available on the NHS and is expensive, costing around six hundred pounds for a week's course.
Sam's mum Stephanie added: "We never imagined so many people would be so kind as to help us try to do the very best we can for Sam. In our darkest days it has been so uplifting to know that people care. Since the first round of therapy we have seen big improvements in him and it's just wonderful to have the chance to keep on helping him. It's impossible to explain how it feels to see your little one struggling and working so hard to do things most people just take for granted. The therapies are life-changing and we just couldn't do it on our own finances. He's been through so much already in his life but he never stops smiling. We just can't thank people enough."
To donate to Sam's Fund please visit his Go Fund Me page.