Wednesday 29 April 2020

A four-year-old ‘superstar’ is walking 5k a day for charity in memory of his baby brother who sadly passed away this month.

Brave Sam Dixon, from Capel Dewi, Carmarthenshire, is taking on the challenge in memory of his baby brother Benjamin who died on 9th April at just 11 weeks old. 

Benjamin had been diagnosed with the condition Congenital Diaphragmic Hernia (CDH). It resulted in the majority of his bowel contents developing in his chest, restricting lung development and displacing his heart.

Despite a brave battle against all the odds, which included major corrective surgery and a transfer to Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, to be put on a heart and lung bypass machine, Benjamin lost his battle.

Sam, an Ysgol Nantgaredig nursery pupil, has set himself the challenge to walk or run 5k every day for the week leading up to Benjamin’s funeral on Friday, 30th April. The family have already smashed their £500 target to raise funds for the Wales Air Ambulance and NICU at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by family, friends and strangers, having so far raised over £13,000.

Sam and Ben’s mum Kelly said: “The messages and donations from the public have been overwhelming and, in a time where we can’t see friends and family, it has been a great source of comfort to know so many people have been touched by Ben’s life and Sam’s challenge.

“It’s astounding the way people have reacted and supported us. We set what we thought was an achievable but ambitious target and to have surpassed it by so much gives us some comfort that we can help make a difference especially to those that helped us bring Ben home.’

The Children’s Wales Air Ambulance brought baby Ben home from Leicester where he was receiving specialist treatment. Before the Dixon family needing the service of the Wales Air Ambulance, the family were supporters of the charity, unaware that one day they would need their help.

Kelly, said: “We were already supporters of the charity but feel a huge connection with the work they do now. We are so grateful that the Wales Air Ambulance stepped up to bring Ben home safely to continue his care. Being back in Wales allowed us to be closer to family and for them to meet Ben and know him before he passed. We will be forever in debt to the charity and will continue to support as much as we can in the future.”

The family are proud of Sam’s efforts at such a young age. Speaking of challenge, Kelly said: “He has been a complete superstar. It’s a long way for an adult to walk so the way he’s stepped up at 4 years old and smashed each day, has been inspirational to us and helped pull us through our down days.

“We take breaks to take in the wonderful scenery and wildlife we encounter on the way and he carries on like a superstar. We run parts of it, have small races against each other to get to the next milestone and try to make it as fun and enjoyable for him as possible. 

“He has been a real source of joy for us in the toughest time of our lives. We’re immensely proud of him and all that he is doing to honour his baby brother’s life.”

Sam, who loved being a big brother, would like it if other families would join him where they live and walk 5k with their families in Benjamin’s memory and post pictures online. 

This will be the first of a few planned fundraising events that the family will do ‘to give back for the unbelievable care’ they received. 

Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance’s South Wales Fundraising Manager, said: “When we first read about Sam’s fundraising in memory of his brother Ben, there was a huge mix of emotions. It’s heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure. No words can describe what the family must be going through at this time and our thoughts are with them.

“Young Sam is remembering his baby brother in a way that will help many other people and that is the most precious legacy for Ben. Thank you, Sam.”

You can sponsor Sam via his Just Giving page here.