A BIG-HEARTED man conquered a marathon and mountain climb in Thailand to raise funds for a little boy he has never met who suffers from a condition leaving him unable to walk.

Leon Johnson, aged six, from Kirby-le-Soken suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

Sam O’Brien, of Basingstoke, completed a marathon in Chiang Mai on Christmas Eve and then scaled the 2,565m Doi Inthanon mountain on Christmas Day to boost a fund set up for Leon.

The 32-year-old has raised £1,431 to provide hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and a specialist walking frame to help the youngster get back on his feet.

Leon was born prematurely at 29 weeks and picked up a potentially fatal infection.

He was taken to a London hospital where the family were called to say goodbye to him.

But little Leon defied the odds to recover and was able to go home after just a few months.

His family later noticed his health was deteriorating and a diagnosis revealed he had quadriplegic cerebral palsy.


EPIC CHALLENGE: Sam after completing the climb and marathon

Sam’s epic challenge has now raised vital cash to help with the youngster’s treatment.

Sam said: “I haven’t met Leon personally but from the chats I’ve had with his Auntie Emily, he is a really happy-go-lucky and very kind-natured little boy.

“He doesn’t think of what he can’t do but rather what he can do.

“He never gives up and is always trying his best.

“All his life has been overcoming huge challenges.

“The doctors said he wouldn’t survive and he did.

“They said he wouldn’t talk and he sings in the school choir.

“Leon’s next big challenge is to be able to stand or maybe even walk a little bit.

“But he needs funds for the equipment and intensive physio to help him make that possible, and that’s what I’ve fundraised for.”

Sam has raised about about £2,000 which will go towards physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and a specifically designed walking frame to help strengthen Leon’s muscles and encourage him to walk.

Leon lives with grandparents Brenda, 59, and Michael Tidmarsh, 54, in Kirby-le-Soken.

They were thrilled to hear what Sam was doing for him.

Brenda said: “I couldn’t believe it when we got a phone call through telling us Sam was raising the money.

“We can’t thank him enough for what he’s doing for Leon and it’s so generous of him to be doing it over Christmas. Leon is very brave and takes on all of his problems, but he always has a smile on his face.”

To donate to the appeal, visit JustGiving.com and search for “Let’s get Leon on his feet”.