WELCOME EFFORT: Members of Teesdale and District Lions Club raised £3,250 for Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Duchenne Research Breakthrough Fund
WELCOME EFFORT: Members of Teesdale and District Lions Club raised £3,250 for Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Duchenne Research Breakthrough Fund

FUNDRAISING efforts to try to find a cure for a Gainford youngster who is living with a rare and fatal muscle-wasting disease have been given a welcome boost.

Ryan Chidzey was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in January 2017.

As a result, the five-year-old’s family launched the Our Fight for Ryan appeal to raise £50,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Duchenne Research Breakthrough Fund in the hope of a cure being discovered in Ryan’s lifetime.

In just 18 months, with the support of the community, the family has managed to pass the £37,000 mark. This has been helped by a recent donation of £3,250 from Teesdale and District Lions Club.

Members of the club, together with Barnard Castle Band – of which Ryan’s grandfather Bert is a member – have been working all year to raise the money after hearing about Ryan’s story.

Events included a birthday party with donations, a fashion show at M&Co, in Barnard Castle, and an open garden event.

Muscular Dystrophy UK’s regional development manager, Stuart Murray, was presented with a cheque earlier this month by club members and immediate past president, Graham Walker.

Lions club president, Bob Garton, said: “It is a terrible shame what has happened to Ryan. Stuart Murray came to the Lions Club and gave a compelling talk back in January about the dreadful disease. I think we all left with a tear in our eye.”

Ryan’s mum, Claire Chidzey, said: “The support the Lion’s Club has given us has been absolutely amazing. We are over the moon.”

Ryan’s grandmother, Rosalyn Chidzey, added: “We are overjoyed and extremely grateful. As always, it is more about the fact that people care.

“Knowing that people care eases the pain far more than any amount of money ever could. It is not all about the money.

“It is the support and the fact that people care about Ryan.

“We thought the target was way too ambitious but it is getting there.”

The family’s fundraising total currently stands at £37,449 – an amount which they never thought they would reach.

Claire Chidzey said: “It is incredible.

“We never thought we would get as far as this. We have slowed things down a bit lately because we want to get things right for Ryan and he is starting to ask questions.”

The Gainford Primary School pupil continues to live life to the full – just like any other boy his age.

Mrs Chidzey said: “He is starting steroids in a couple of months because he is struggling with things like the stairs.

“He is also getting a little wheelchair to get him about a bit more because he gets tired quite quickly.

“Apart from that he is Ryan. He is brilliant. He doesn’t let anything phase him. He is doing really well at school too.”

All of the money raised by the Chidzeys will help to fund world-class research, boosting clinical trial capacity in the UK to ensure that people like Ryan have access to emerging treatments.

Mr Murray said: “The astonishing amount raised by Our Fight for Ryan in just over 18 months is a testament to the strength and resilience of Ryan and his family.

“We are funding ground-breaking research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy with the help of families like the Chidzeys.

“Potential treatments are being trialled and could transform lives.

“It is vital we continue to support this work for Ryan and the 2,500 people in the UK living with this condition. We are so thankful to everyone who continues to offer such inspiring support.”