Wisbech cyclists are going Dutch to give boys life memories
A team of cyclists will be pedalling between Amsterdam and Wisbech to make the dreams of three special boys come true.
Ben and Sarah Dodkin are determined to make happy family memories and not let the rare Battens Disease blight the childhood of sons Finley (8), Arthur (6) and Harrison (4).
Finley and Harrison are two of approximately 30 children living in the UK with Juvenile Battens Disease, a neurodegenerative condition which will affect their eyesight, mobility and memory.
A helicopter ride, kissing a dolphin and watching the Lion King stage show are just some of the wishes of these three special boys, who attend Peckover School in Wisbech.
To make those dreams come true, Ben and eight family friends will be taking on the cycling challenge in May next year. Half of the fundraising will also go towards funding a support worker for the Batten Family Association.
Sarah said: “We are trying to make a lifetime of memories for our boys and it is amazing that our friends are going to do this for us.
“They are a lovely group of lads who mean a lot to our boys – they are going to make their wishes come true. We also know the importance of a family worker.”
The family’s journey began in May 2016 when Finley began to have problems with his eyesight. He was later diagnosed with Macular Dystrophy and sent for genetic testing.
These tests revealed that Finley had Battens Disease.
Sarah and Ben were told by a genetic counsellor that there was a one-in-four chance of Arthur and Harrison being affected by the disease. Tests revealed that Harrison was affected but Arthur was not.
Sarah, who works at Meadowgate Academy in Wisbech, said: “It was heartbreaking. You dream of a lot of things for your children and to be told that this may not happen is hard.
“The news was not only devastating for us, but also for our friends and family.”
This dreadful condition is also starting to rob Finley of his eyesight.
Sarah said: “Two years ago Finley was told that he had a month or so of vision left, but he has still retained some of it.
“Peckover School has been amazing. They are incredible with everything and think of so much.
“Finley loves school and they have made him so confident as he had become anxious. He is happy and really confident.”
Staff at the school have also come up with the idea of creating memory boxes to help support the boys.
Important events are now immortalised in pictures, text, music and smells for the boys to keep and look over.
Sarah said: “Smells are really important as they are a good way for Finley to identify people later.”
His dad will be taking on the three-day cycling challenge with Paul Bate, Jesse Bate, Phil Kowbas, Jack Griffin, Harry Griffin, Toby Allen, Owen Dobson and Nathan Peel in May next year.
To support please go to: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/pedal4memories