'Her life depends on funding': Group of Lancashire dads walk from Blackpool to Preston to raise money for girl with cerebral palsy
A group of Lancashire dads, part of TeamDad, plan to walk 16.5 miles from Blackpool FC to Preston's Deepdale to raise money for seven-year-old Freya's physiotherapy treatment.
TeamDad is an online group that aims to get parents across Lancashire making friends and supporting each other in a bid to improve mental health.
Co-founder Graham Sims, who runs the popular local Dadsnet kickabout sessions, he aims to give men a chance to socialise and open up about their personal struggles over a game of football.
Darren Bailey became involved with TeamDad earlier this year after taking part in a group cycle around Preston's Guild Wheel, and the other men soon learned about his daughter Freya, seven, who needs physiotherapy sessions at a cost of over £200 a week.
Born with the condition cerebral palsy and two holes in her heart, the youngster needs physiotherapy sessions along with specialist equipment to help her live a relatively normal life.
On December 19, thanks to Preston dad Jake Myers, the group will be braving a 16.5 mile trek from Blackpool to Preston, raising money for children's charity Tree of Hope to help fund her treatment.
He said: "My daughter Freya is one of the bravest little girls I know. At the age of seven she's already had three open heart operations and I can honestly say, for nearly every day of her life, she's had a smile on her face.
"I want to make people aware that Freya has had Selective dorsal Rhizotomy surgery in 2018 which was paid for with the help of the local community as the NHS do not fund it.
"For this operation to be a success and due to the severity of Freya's cerebral palsy, money raised will continue to pay for physiotherapy.
"It is brilliant that so many of the dads are willing to help. The members wanted to help a worthy charity, so I put my daughter's case forward and the work of Tree of Hope. Freya constantly needs input of money from charities or fundraisers for her physiotherapy and equipment. Her life depends on this funding."
Group organiser Graham is passionate about supporting men who may be struggling with a variety of issues, such as stress, depression and anxiety, to reduce male depression and suicide in the Lancashire area.
On October 14, he set up the new Facebook group TeamDad which currently has more than 800 members - including Freya's dad Darren.
After his daughter Chloe was born in 2016, Graham was looking for some practical parenting advice online when he stumbled across the international DadsNet group.
He was immediately bowled over by the warmth on show from the welcoming community of fathers and became inspired to start Lancashire DadsNet that year, with the Kickabout group starting in 2018.
He said: "It provides dads with peer to peer support get them help and assistance and somewhere to get things off their chest. It is really important to get people connected whilst the world is all operating online.
"Darren joined the group a while back and another member, Jake Myers, asked which dads would want to get involved in raising some money for the family with the sponsored walk.
"A lot of the dads in the group were happy to help and were on board to take part in the walk. We have made Tree of Hope our charity of the month."
Tree of Hope is a crowdfunding charity helping children and young people with a disabilities or illnesses by supporting their families to raise the money they need to pay for specialist care.
Donate to the fundraiser here.