A seven-year-old boy has raised over £10,000 for his terminally ill little brother after walking, running, cycling and swimming the circumference of the MOON – twice.
Harry Byrne has spent the last three months covering more than 13,500 miles with the help of a team of dedicated ‘moon trekkers’, for his little brother Reuben, two.
Reuben was born with a condition that causes his brain to deteriorate and so rare it doesn’t have a name yet – and there are fewer than 20 recorded cases worldwide.
Doting brother Harry often tells his younger brother he loves him “to the moon and back”, and wanted to prove it by travelling the circumference of the moon – a feat that he remarkably managed twice.
From July 31 to October 31, Harry, from Larkhill, Wilts., spent every day ticking off the miles – from walking to school and back, to running a mile around his local football pitch at the half-time of a match.
Determined Harry even clocked up an impressive 28 miles in a single day, when he and his best friend walked from Avebury to Stonehenge – a trek which took them almost 12 hours.
And proud mum Sophie Byrne, 29, said that all the while, Reuben has been Harry’s “number one cheerleader” – even finishing off Harry’s final mile with him, as Harry pushed his brother’s pram along with his bike.
Sophie, who is also mum to eight-month-old Felix, said: “We’re so proud of Harry for everything he’s done.
“Not only has he raised money and awareness of Reuben’s condition, but he’s also created all these amazing memories with his little brother, which is just priceless.
“Harry’s favourite parts of the challenge were the bits where Reuben was there with him – like when he cycled the last mile with Reuben, or when I got into the pool with Reuben to watch Harry swim a mile.
“We’re not sure how much Reuben can actually see, and he doesn’t really understand a lot of what’s going on around him.
“But he does occasionally give a big smile or even a laugh, and that’s when you know he’s really happy, overjoyed – and I think those moments have spurred Harry on a lot in the last few months.”
And proud Harry added: “My favourite part was when Reuben and I went on the bike together. I really enjoyed that.
“Some of it was really tiring, but having lots of support from friends made it easier.
“I really want to keep raising more money for Reuben, because it makes me feel really good.”
Sadly, Reuben is Sophie’s second child with her husband Sean, 35, to be born with the unnamed, life-limiting condition – which is caused by a PIGB genetic mutation.
Nine years ago, the couple had a daughter called Olivia who was also born with the same condition – and passed away aged nine months old, before Harry was born.
Sophie said: “When Reuben was born with the same thing, I knew instantly, because of Olivia. It was like lightning had struck in the same place twice.
“As far as doctors know, there have been fewer than 20 recorded cases of this condition worldwide – and two of them are my own children.
“The longest surviving child with this condition lived to the age of just five years old.”
But Sophie added: “We’ve always talked quite openly and positively with Harry about Reuben, and about Olivia, too.
“It’s something that you can either let take you to a really dark place, or you can turn it into something positive – like Harry has done.
“Things that happen in your childhood can really affect you in adulthood – so we wanted Harry to be able to look back and think of all the amazing memories he created with Reuben.
“After Olivia passed away, Sean and I did the Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for the hospices that had cared for her.
“And Harry wanted to do something similar to support the hospices that help his little brother.”
Harry has so far raised a whopping £25,000 – £10,000 from his ’round the moon’ challenge, and £15,000 from taking on a 45-mile walk over three days earlier this year.
The youngster walked between Julia’s House Hospice in Devizes, Wilts., and Naomi House in Sutton Scotney, Hants. – the two hospices that help care for Reuben.
And the money he has raised so far will be divided between the two hospices, as a token of gratitude for the work they do.
Sophie said: “We’ve been really touched by the generosity of kind strangers during this challenge.
“We’ve had a team of about 50 people over the last three months getting out and donating miles towards Harry’s total, including from as far as Australia and Canada.
“We were doing a moonlit walk past Stonehenge one evening in fancy dress, and a passer-by stopped and just handed Harry a £50 note when he heard what we were doing.
“Harry is very modest about it all, he gets embarrassed when I or others praise him for what he’s done.
“People on social media have called him a superhero, but he’ll say, “I’m not, I’m just an ordinary boy”.
“But he’s full of energy, so I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Harry’s fundraising yet.”
To donate to Harry’s cause, visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=MoonTrekkers&isTeam=true.