Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

A TEENAGER from Woking has found new independence and freedom after being presented with a powered wheelchair.

The chair was bought for 14-year-old Thomas Dring thanks to the fundraising efforts of customers and staff at a gaming centre.

Thomas Dring, with dad Paul and mum Solange, in his new wheelchair

Thomas, a pupil at Gordons School at West End, suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disorder that causes muscle degeneration and weakness.

His wheelchair was provided thanks to Cashino Putney, one of the main fundraisers for the charity CHIPS.

CHIPS was set up on behalf of the casino and gaming industry to provide specialised powered wheelchairs for children with severe mobility problems.

Thomas’s mum, Solange, said: “Thomas can only walk short distances and tires very quickly. He has an NHS wheelchair that is in reasonably good condition but, unfortunately, he’s outgrown it.

“He’s really competitive but can’t keep up with his friends or get around school too well, which is causing him to become frustrated. All of this is causing an impact on his independence and emotional stability.”

“The powered wheelchair will be life changing for Thomas, and our whole family. It’ll give him back his independence, freedom and mobility, meaning we can spend more time outdoors as a family.”

A spokesman for Cashino Putney said: “It is such a proud moment to know that our fundraising efforts have helped Thomas be able to get around a bit easier. Walking is something that most of us take for granted, so it makes us all overwhelmed to know that he has been given more of a chance to enjoy his life as much as he can.”

CHIPS, through fundraising which includes contributions from Cashino and its parent company Praesepe, has so far raised more than £2.2m, enabling the charity to present over 520 wheelchairs to children throughout the UK.

A RUNNER from Woking is to take part in his first half marathon, inspired by a charity helping children with a rare genetic condition.

Roberto Villalobos will be raising money for Harrison’s Fund, which funds research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

CHARITY BOOST: Roberto Villalobos with his Harrison’s Fund running vest

He is stepping up his act to run the 13 miles of the Surrey Half Marathon next month.

Roberto, 26, said: “I started reading about Harrison’s Fund and thought it could be great to support this cause. No children should have to face such a big health challenge.”

The Esher-based fund was set up in 2012 by Alex and Donna Smith, after their eldest son, Harrison, was diagnosed with DMD.

A life-limiting condition, it affects all the muscles in the body, causing them to waste away. Harrison now has to use a wheelchair to get around and his parents are hoping the charity can find an effective treatment or even a cure. Roberto, who is originally from Spain, added:

“It’s my first time trying to complete a half marathon, and my first time raising funds for a charity. I hope I do them proud.”

Harrison’s Fund is currently funding 16 research projects in the US and the UK. Its events fundraiser, Laura Morgan, said: “It’s wonderful to hear from people like Roberto how much our cause resonates with them.

She added: “We want children with Duchenne to have hope for the future.”

The Surrey Half Marathon is on Sunday 10 March, following a route from Woking Park to Jacobs Well and back. To sponsor Roberto, search for his name at www.everydayhero.com/uk

For the full story get the 21 February edition of the News & Mail