Banbury toddler and his family take part in fundraising challenge in support of friend with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Banbury toddler and his family take part in fundraising challenge in support of 4-year-old best friend with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 10:29 am
Updated Thursday, 29th April 2021, 10:30 am
Robin Keegan and his parents will take part in the Oxford Town and Gown 10k in June to help support his best friend, Joe Littler aged 4. (Image from Muscular Dystrophy UK)

A Banbury toddler will take part in his first fundraiser challenge when his parents push him round this year’s Oxford Town and Gown 10k race in a stroller, as they support a friend with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Joe Littler, aged four and a half, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His best friend, Robin aged 3, will be taking part in his first fundraising event, with his parents to help support the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK).

Robin will join his parents, Rebekah Pawley, 37, and Sam Keegan, 36, who are from Banbury, as they run the Oxford Town and Gown 10k in June, pushing him in his stroller. Rebekah, Sam and Robin are close friends with Joe Littler’s family.

Rebekah and Sam have been fundraising for Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) since 2017, when they ran in the charity’s Cambridge Town and Gown 10k.

Joe’s dad, Ste, then ran the Royal Parks half marathon in 2018, and Ste and Rebekah ran the Lake Windermere marathon in 2019. In 2020, the whole group of family and friends organised a back-to-back '26JoesforJoe', completing 26.2 of Joe Wicks' online PE lessons in a day-long tag team via zoom, recording the whole event, as part of the 2020 London Marathon 26.2 challenge.

Joe, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in May 2017, when he was six months old. His family lives in Bedford, but his mum, Hannah, and Rebekah have been friends for over 30 years. Joe and Robin are now best friends too.

Rebekah said: “I am really looking forward to getting out and taking part in an event in person. We signed up because it’s in Oxford, which is convenient for us, and we haven’t been able to get into the city throughout the pandemic, but also because we'd like to keep supporting MDUK. Robin is really excited to take part in his first event!”

She said that while it is not a huge stretch to achieve this physically: “This has huge emotional significance for us as it is tied up with our feelings of being grateful for what we have, and accepting what is out of our control.”

“I am a bystander to my friends' experience with diagnosis, grief and acceptance, and living day-to-day with their son having Duchenne. The degenerative nature of the condition means that unless a treatment is discovered, all Joe's hard-won achievements, like learning to stand and move, will gradually be taken away.

"We want to contribute in some small way to the work that MDUK does both to support families living with that reality, and to support research to find treatments or cures."

Anyone who would like to support the Banbury family in their challenge help Joe and the Muscular Dystrophy UK charity can use the following JustGiving web link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rebekah-pawley2?

Krishan Solanki, MDUK head of events, said: “It is going to be wonderful to have so many families getting involved this year. With live events returning it is a big boost for the charity. Our event provides a wonderful vehicle for people to raise vital funds for MDUK and I hope the example of Rebekah and little Robin will inspire others to sign up.”