A COURAGEOUS family from Exeter, who together hope to raise £50,000 for the ‘Stepping with Sophie’ appeal, are taking on Exeter’s Great West Run on October 19 in a bid to help young Sophie Joy, aged four, walk unaided for the first time.

The team is made up of Daniel Case, Father to Sophie, Deborah Down, Grandmother, and Jade Down, Auntie.

Sophie has battled Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy from a very young age, and despite the tireless efforts of her parents to support her with as much physio at home, she will only see her condition improve significantly with an operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy.

Sophie’s mother Gemma was fortunate enough to stumble across the rare operation, however due to the costs involved it has never been carried out in the UK.

The family have been given the go ahead for the operation to be conducted in Bristol, but are still awaiting a date.

They have raised £39,000 so far ,which is enough for the operation, however they still need to raise in excess of £10,000 more which covers the aftercare and daily physio she will need for over 12 months after.

Danie, aged 38, said: “We not only want to raise these vital funds, but also help increase awareness of Sophie's charity and this particular operation. There are hundreds of families in the UK who are suffering in the same way that we have, who are probably unaware of this life changing operation.

"The operation can be carried out in the UK but due to lack of home research into the procedure, very few have been funded to date. We did apply for funding but this was refused. Unfortunately there are hundreds of families in the UK who are in the same position as we are.

“We just want what any other parent wants, and that is to see your child meet those important milestones growing up. Sophie has met all of those except walking unaided. With all the help and fantastic support and donations we have received, hopefully we can make Sophie's dream come true.

"If she doesn't manage to walk unaided at least she will be pain free, and free from the deformities that spasticity will bring. As our favourite saying goes, she may have cerebral palsy but cerebral palsy doesn't have her.”

For more information and to follow Sophies journey, please visit www.stepping-with-sophie.blogspot.co.uk or www.facebook.com/SteppingWithSophie.

You can also donate online at www.justgiving.com/stepping-with-sophie. Exeter’s Great West Run, sponsored by Tozers Solicitors, will be taking place on Sunday October 19.

Registrations are now open at www.thegreatwestrun.co.uk, where you can also find training plans and support resources, suited to runners of all abilities.