Sunderland AFC to Newcastle United walk aims to raise cash for Charlie Cookson Foundation

Supporters at the end of last year's walk
Supporters at the end of last year's walk

Dozens of fundraisers will let the walking do the talking in a show of support for a foundation set up in memory of a South Tyneside toddler.

Two-year-old Charlie Cookson will be remembered and honoured through a 14-mile trek next Sunday.

Charlie Cookson

Charlie Cookson

They will journey from Sunderland football club’s Stadium of Light ground to St James’ Park, the home of North East rivals Newcastle United.

Once there, each participant will release a blue balloon with a note dedicated to the youngster, who died in October 2013.

The fifth annual ‘Trekking for Charlie’ event has been organised by the Charlie Cookson Foundation, which was established by his parents Sarah and Christopher.

It provides financial support to parents of seriously ill children with life limiting conditions who require round-the-clock nursing care or specialist nursing facilities.

Fundraising and events manager Joanne Nicholson said there was still time for people to sign up for an event which it is hoped will raise around hundreds of pounds.

She added: “This walk was a great success last year and we are hoping for a repeat of that this time around.

“It helps the foundation to raise much needed funds for families and provides a wonderful opportunity for us to spread and raise awareness of our unique foundation.

“No doubt there will be lots fun and laughs along the way – it’s a case of the more the merrier, so we would hope family and friends of supporters will also get involved.

“Of course, the real objective is to raise as much money as we can for the families that we support.

“Helping to relieve some of the financial burdens they face is a tremendous impetus for us.”

For the first nine weeks of his life, Charlie was cared for within a special care baby unit, and over the next two years, he underwent regular hospital treatment for muscle and bone problems.

In April 2013, he was given the South Tyneside Child of Courage Award and his condition appeared to be stabilising.

But he also suffered from breathing difficulties, life-threatening infections and epileptic seizures, which quickly deteriorated.

During its short but effective existence, the foundation has donated over £170,000 to support families.

In a separate annual fundraising initiative, the non-profit foundation supporters are being asked to wear blue throughout April.

Its official ‘wear blue’ day is Friday, April 13 – the date of Charlie’s birthday.

The walk, which passes through Boldon and carries on to join the River Tyne, taking around four and a half hours to complete.

Participants should meet at the Hilton Hotel, next to the Stadium of Light, at 9.30am for a 10am start.

Anyone who would like to take part should email joanne@charliecooksonfoundation.co.uk for a registration form email or visit the foundation shop in the Denmark Centre, South Shields.

Further details about the foundation are available at www.charliecookson.org.uk