Seven-year-old Harry is on a quest to race around the moon to show his love for his seriously ill little brother. And he’s calling on local people to give him a boost and help him reach the finish line.
Harry Byrne, from Larkhill, captured hearts earlier this year when he took on a 45-mile hike to raise money for both Julia's House and Naomi House & Jacksplace in Hampshire. We work together to support Harry's family and care for his brother Reuben.
Now that lockdown restrictions have eased, the stellar youngster has decided to venture much further with his fundraising – he’s got his sights set on space. With help from his family, friends and other fellow ‘moon trekkers’, Harry hopes to complete the 6786-mile distance around the moon in just three months.
As well as leading three fancy dress walks past Stonehenge on the full moon days of 22 August, 21 September and 20 October, the St Michael’s C of E Primary School pupil plans to clock up the miles by climbing mountains, running with his football friends and lots more.
Harry hopes his challenge will raise £4,000 to help provide our vital care for seriously ill children like his brother.
“We’re beyond proud of Harry,” says Mum Sophie. “He has such a special bond with Reuben. He’ll put his arms out wide and tell him, “I love you around the moon and back,” and Reuben will always give Harry his biggest smiles.
Two-year-old Reuben was born with a condition that causes his brain to deteriorate – it’s so rare it doesn’t have a name yet, and there are fewer than 20 recorded cases worldwide. Sadly, the boys’ older sister Olivia died from the same condition when she was just eight months old. Because doctors are still learning about the condition, the family were told that ‘lightning wouldn’t strike twice’.
“Reuben has hugely complex needs and needs round-the-clock care from someone who’s trained to look after him,” says Mum Sophie. “It can be incredibly tiring for us. So when the Julia’s House nurses come into our home to give us those respite care breaks, it means we can switch off a little, and have peace of mind that Reuben’s in safe and loving hands.”
She says, “Reuben can have up to 10 seizures a day and it’s scary because it’s always in the back of your mind – is this one the last? He had one outside the school gates recently and Harry rushed straight away to get his brother’s oxygen for me. He stroked his head and was telling him, “It’s okay Reu Reu, it’s okay.”
“He’s just amazing with him and they’re both so brave. I think that’s what’s going to break our hearts the most when Reuben does pass away because they love each other so much.”
Sophie adds, “Harry wants to take Reuben out in his buggy for as many moon miles as he can. It’s like the Winnie the Pooh quote: they don’t realise they’re making memories together – they just know they’re having fun.”
Harry’s ‘A race around the moon’ challenge starts this Saturday 31 July and will last for 3 months. Already, the youngster has gained support from around 300 people who have joined his Facebook group, with many pledging miles and donations to support our care.
Nicky Clack, Fundraising Administrator for Julia’s House, says, “Harry’s an incredible big brother and he’s been an absolute star this year in raising funds and awareness for Julia’s House children’s hospice. He’s making a huge difference at such a young age for so many local children and families who depend on our care. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Harry for racing around the moon, and bon voyage on his cosmic adventure!”
Find out more about Harry’s challenge show your support at his Virgin Giving page.