Larne butcher Dean gets teeth into marathon for Finlay

Karen Spiers with her son Finlay and butcher and friend Dean Hodge. INLT-42-707-con
Karen Spiers with her son Finlay and butcher and friend Dean Hodge. INLT-42-707-con

A Larne butcher is to run his first marathon to fundraise for a special wheelchair for a local boy with quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

Dean Hodge of McKeen’s Butchers on Dunluce Street will swap the butcher’s block for pounding pavements when he takes part in the 26-mile Dublin marathon on October 30.

Dean is fundraising for a state-of-the art ‘running’ chair for eight-year-old Finlay Spiers, who was left disabled after a traumatic birth.

Finlay’s mum Karen told the Times: “Finlay has quadriplegia cerebral palsy with no power in any of his limbs, and he can’t talk.

“He was starved of oxygen at birth so he also has epilepsy, and he has a high muscle tone so he has spasms and sometimes can’t bend his arms or legs. Finlay is in pain quite a lot and requires 24-hour care.”

Despite his health conditions, Karen says Finlay is a “bright, sociable, really happy wee boy with an infectious smile.”

Last year, caring locals raised £8,500 for a custom-made tricycle for Finlay.

His mum is now hoping that the new running chair will allow Finlay greater independence during his favourite park run events.

“Finlay absolutely loves the park run, he smiles from ear to ear and everyone cheers him on, he loves being involved and being with other children,” she said.

“At the minute I am pushing him round in a four-wheeled wheelchair but the new chair is like a three-wheel buggy, which costs around £900.

“The new chair will give Finlay more freedom and independence, he will be included and it will allow him to feel like an eight-year-old boy should.

“Eventually I hope we can participate in 5k and 10k races! I would really like to thank Dean and Finlay and I can’t wait to go out running with him in the new chair!”

Marathon man Dean says that the thought of Finlay is keeping him going.

“The chair will make a big difference to Finlay, and any additional money raised will help pay for his future treatment and medical equipment,” he said. “Local people have been very generous in their support.”

To sponsor Dean, call into McKeen’s Butchers or visit Dean Hodge’s Justgiving page online.