Help our Whizz-Kidz runners

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The Independent Online

Children's charity Whizz-Kidz and the Independent on Sunday have joined forces to run the London Marathon today and benefit disabled children.

The "dream team" comprises the paper's readers and staff, and was formed to mark this year's joint 10th birthdays of Whizz-Kidz and the Independent on Sunday. The running readers are: Damian Osman, 22, a transport porter; Mena Martin, 33, a personal assistant; Lily Dunn, 26, an editor; Lucy Fermin-Moore, 42, a housing worker; Sam Agnew, 25, a banker; and Kalim Rhaman, 31, a project accountant. The staff are Anna Dedhar, 43; Roger Orwin, 31; and Duncan Eaton, 31. Whizz-Kidz was set up in 1990 by two friends running the London Marathon. Each year the charity transforms the lives of disabled youngsters by enabling them to become mobile for the first time. For many of Britain's 70,000 physically impaired children, Whizz-Kidz-funded tailor-made wheelchairs and tri- cycles give them their first-ever taste of the freedom of movement and independence many of us take for granted.

Each tailor-made piece of equipment costs between £2 and £7,000.

This year, the Independent on Sunday aims to help the charity raise £10 million to help 2,000 children with disabilities. Whizz-Kidz also aims to recruit a network of mobility therapists to assess the needs of disabled children throughout Britain.

"Finding the right mobility aid is a complex process," explained Jill Cochrane of Whizz-Kidz. "All the equipment we provide is individually assessed and tailor-made. Our mobility therapists assess the children, examining their joints, the strength and tone of their current condition. More importantly, they learn about the child's aspirations and motivations and really find out what they enjoy doing most and how they will benefit from using their new mobility aid at home, at school and at play."

One disabled child who has already benefited from Whizz-Kidz fund-raising is 11-year-old Dominic Hyams. Dominic's physically mobility is severely impaired by brittle-bone disease. Last year, he was the recipient of a £7,000 turbo- charged electric wheelchair that allowed him to keep up with his able-bodied friends.

"I can join my friends when they walk to school now," said Dominic.

Donations to Whizz-Kidz can be made by credit card (020 7798 6118) or cheque (payable to Whizz-Kidz, FREEPOST LON19191, SW1E 5ZY).