Youngsters put in a marathon effort for cause

(l-r) James Rankin (11) and Billy Simmonds (11) are set to run 10 miles for the charity Footprints.
(l-r) James Rankin (11) and Billy Simmonds (11) are set to run 10 miles for the charity Footprints.
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GRATITUDE for the help his younger brother is getting from a charity has spurred young James Rankin to organise a fundraising run.

James, 11, will be running 10 miles from Leigh Park to Portsmouth tomorrow to raise money for Down Syndrome charity Footprints.

His seven-month-old brother Louis was born with the condition.

The Rankin family are one of many in the area that benefit from support and information from the recently-formed charity.

And to ensure the organisation has enough money to carry on, James and his football friend Billy Simmonds, 11, will be taking part in a run.

James said: ‘I wanted to raise money to try and keep the charity going so my brother can continue to use it as it helps him.

‘And it’s not just my brother, I know there are other babies and children that come here, so I want to help keep it there for them too.

‘Then my friend decided he would help me as well.’

The boys started planning their fundraising route two months ago and have steadily been building up the distance they are running.

The pair will be setting off from The Warren and will be running to the Sarah Duffen Centre, in Belmont Road, Southsea, which is where the Down Syndrom Education International office is.

Billy said: ‘I have been running three miles, then five miles, then seven miles to get used to running longer distances.’

The boys have been getting the backing from friends and family.

Between them they have managed to raise more than £200.

James’ sister Alice, nine, has also been busy raising money by holding a bake sale for classmates at Warren Park Primary School.

‘We did feel nervous about it to start with,’ added James.

‘But because we’ve been doing the route so many times it isn’t so bad.’

Mum Jo Rankin, 44, of Larkwhistle Walk, Leigh Park, says she is proud of the boys.

The mum-of-three said: ‘I’m so proud of them – especially because they thought of the idea themselves and have been doing their own planning and training.

‘It’s massively important that families have somewhere to go to.

‘It means you get to meet other parents and children who are going through the same thing and get support that way.’

Rachael Ross, of Footprints, said: ‘It’s a brilliant effort.

‘Because of Louis the boys understand the position we’re in and why fundraising will help us so much.’

To donate, see go to virgin moneygiving.com and search for Footprints – Portsmouth Down Syndrome Support Group