THE father of a tragic South Tyneside tot is taking on his first ever running challenge.
Chris Cookson is set to tackle tomorrow’s Great North 10K in memory of his son Charlie, who passed away in October, last year, after battling a mystery illness.
He was just two-and-a-half.
Chris, 36, from Simonside, South Shields, is running the event to raise cash for the Charlie Cookson Foundation, which he set up with his wife, Sarah, 37.
He said: “This is the first running event I’m ever going to have done, so I’m more than a little nervous.
“I’ve been running every morning before work, doing about 13k around South Shields and then cycling to work at John Lewis, in Newcastle, so hopefully that’s helping to prepare me for it.
“It is getting easier all of the time and the fact that I’m doing it for Charlie’s foundation is really spurring me on – he’s my inspiration.
“I’ve heard that the last part of the race is quite hard though because it’s uphill, so I think it’s going to be tough.
“It starts at the Tyne Bridge and goes over to The Sage, The Baltic and the Millennium Bridge, and along the Quayside, and ends in Gateshead Stadium.
“Running into the stadium at the end is going to be amazing. It’s a very fitting place to end it and I think I’ll get quite emotional.”
A further 15 runners are taking on the event to raise funds for the Charlie Cookson Foundation, and Chris says he’s been overwhelmed by the response.
He added: “I put something up on Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in doing the run for the foundation and straight away a load of people said they would do it.
“That was a massive thing for us. We didn’t even have to ask people to do it, they all came forward, people we haven’t even met before.
“That was really touching and it feels fantastic that the foundation is starting to become better known out there.
“Everything we do is for Charlie and it just means so much to us that other people are willing to do something like this for him as well.”
The charity helps to financially support the families of children with life-limiting conditions by paying their bills for three months.
So far, the foundation has helped six families and it needs to raise £36,000 a year.