In June 2015, I was sat at my desk in work when a message came through from one of Fin’s friend’s parents.
She told me that her son Isaac (6) had recently climbed Pen Y Fan and had really enjoyed it and had now asked if he could climb Snowdon. They had chatted about it and decided that it was a difficult feat for a 6 year old and so if he was going to do it, he should do it for a charity to raise money and he had immediately said “Can I do it for Fin?”
She asked if I would be happy for him to do it in Fin’s name for JDRF to raise funds for Type 1 Diabetes research and I replied immediately to say that of course it was and that I was really touched that he had chosen our cause to raise money for.
The Just Giving page was set up and it’s safe to say that it went wild! An initial fundraising target of £500.00 was immediately increased to £1,000. The public support also exceeded all our expectations with re-tweets from Rupert Moon and Michael Sheen and messages of support from the local newspaper, the Ospreys rugby club and a page long feature on JDRF UK.
The donations flooded in and the revised target was massively exceeded reaching an incredible £3,698.00 plus 25% gift aid taking the overall total to £4,622.50.
As the time got closer to the weekend, I started to worry more and more. Whilst it was an amazing thing to do, Isaac was only 6 years old and I was worried that he may injure himself or find it too hard and I would never have forgiven myself for allowing him to take on something so difficult if it ended badly.
On the 24th of July 2015, we set off to North Wales. We stopped in a lovely country house for a meal on the way and before we left, Isaac and Fin were interviewed on the radio via telephone to tell their story.
We arrived at the hotel in Caernarfon in the evening and all went out for a meal together before heading for bed.
It was an early start the next morning, we all drove down to the start of the Pyg path and waved them off. At this point, I was extremely nervous and was praying that everything would go to plan.
The less energetic members of the party were catching the train to the summit in the hope that we would arrive at the same time as the walking party so that Fin and Isaac could meet at the top. We anticipated it would take at least 3 hours due to his age and factoring in that they may have to stop a few times and so we booked the train tickets to coincide with this.
Just before getting on the train, we had a phone call to say they weren’t far from the summit and so we told them to have a break while we caught up!
The train journey up was breath-taking and the scenery was incredible. It was quite surreal travelling to the top of the highest mountain in Wales on a train.
Fin was using his binoculars all the way up to try and spot his best friend which was so cute!
Then, as we neared the top, all of a sudden, to the left of the train, Isaac came into view waving like a mad man! Fin jumped out of his seat and I burst into tears. Seeing that he had achieved such an amazing feat a full 30 minutes ahead of schedule made me feel so emotional that I can’t really put it into words.
Knowing we were almost at the top, Isaac started running and once we got off the train, we managed to push through the huge throng of people in the cafe and meet them all at the summit. Fin spotted Isaac through the crowd and they ran straight into each others arms and I cried…again!
We had a few group photographs and set off some party poppers before saying Goodbye as they started their descent. Fin and Cian were determined to walk down along with my 63 year old mother and so they all set off and we headed back on the train to meet them at the bottom of the Llanberris path.
By the time we had caught the train down and then walked over to the bottom of the path, we didn’t have long to wait before they all came tearing down the hill. All except my mother who had massively under-estimated the difficulty of the descent and could barely walk!
There were hugs all round and lots of photographs.
Fin gave Isaac a cuddly toy and T shirt to thank him for all that he had done and to remember the day.
We had such a lovely time and when we got back, I made a video for Isaac to not only thank him but also for him to always have something to remind him of his achievement.
You can see the video I made about our weekend here.
In 2016, after a pretty scary hypo in Fin’s birthday party, Isaac decided he wanted to do something else to raise money for JDRF as he was sad that a cure still hadn’t been found.
After a brain storming session, he decided that along with his dad, brother and grandfather, he would do a 55 mile bike ride along the Taff Trail. Bearing in mind he was only 7 years old, this was again, a huge feat.
As always, people were extremely generous on Just Giving and the total raised with Gift Aid was £3,051.25.
Due to a number of different factors, the boys didn’t manage to do as much training as they had hoped and so when the day came around, I was again worried that he was over exerting himself.
They started their bike ride in Brecon and we met them half way in Merthyr laden with picnic blankets and plenty of food and drink and waited for them to arrive.
Within half hour of us getting to the meeting point, they came speeding up the path looking full of energy.
We all had some lunch and then they set off for the rest of their journey.
We then met them in another park with refreshments and at this point Isaac looked exhausted.
I was really worried and told him that people would understand if he couldn’t finish it and that he had done amazingly well to get that far!
But in true Isaac fashion, he was determined to succeed and after a short break, he got back on his bike and headed for Cardiff Bay.
As always, they did us proud and arrived at the Bay not long after us. They were extremely tired but after plying them with Haribo sweets and drinks they soon picked up and were so pleased to have accomplished such a massive achievement.
In 2017, instead of one big event, Isaac decided to do the “9 challenges in 9 months!”.
In January, he played all his rugby games in a pink leotard!
In February, he shaved off all his hair!
In March, he did a 12 hour sponsored silence.
In April, he walked 11 miles (the length of the Rhondda Fawr). This was something we all took part in and it’s safe to say, we were hard to ignore!
We stopped at McDonalds half way to re-fuel!
Then after around 7 hours on our feet, we finally reached our destination!
In May, he gave up chocolate and doughnuts for a whole month!
In June, he walked up Pen Y Fan, the largest mountain in South Wales at 886ft, twice in one day!
In July, he did the same bike ride as the year before but added on an additional 10 miles making the total distance 65 miles!
In August, he took part in the Mini Mudder challenge and exceeded everybody’s expectations by actually winning the event.
And finally in September, he did the Iron Kids challenge in Tenby!
To raise additional funds, he also designed his own wristbands and sold these to friends in school and rugby.
In total, his 9 challenges in 9 months raised a massive £3,881.25 including gift aid taking his total raised in just 2 years to £11,5550.00 which is truly amazing!
His fundraising efforts have attracted lots of attention in the media and he has received sponsors from far and wide. He won the Young Person’s Achievement Award in London in 2016 and Young Fundraiser of the Year at the Pride of Wales awards in the same year where he met Alesha Dixon.
He has been chosen to carry the torch in the Queen’s Baton Relay where his whole school turned out to watch him….
…and earlier this year we were invited to Dan Yr Ogof Show caves to meet the First Minister and Adam Jones to help them open the new Land Train, which is raising funds for JDRF. At this event, Isaac was presented with a certificate from JDRF for raising over £10,000.00.
Despite the media attention and the various awards and certificates, he is not phased in the slightest and his focus is purely on raising every penny that he can for JDRF to help Fin, and all the others suffering with Type 1, to one day get a cure.
Just this week, we received the fantastic news that he had been shortlisted to the top 3 Young Fundraisers of the Year in the Just Giving awards.
He has been invited to attend a prestigious awards ceremony in London in November where they will find out the result and instead of being excited when he was told, he simply asked “Do you think that will make more people want to sponsor me?”
He is a truly special little boy with a massive heart and as well as all the fundraising, he is quite simply the best friend Fin could ever wish for.
If Fin’s bloods are low in school preventing him from going out to play, it is always Isaac who volunteers to stay in with him. He has his back at all times and as he has learnt so much about the condition he can sometimes recognise when Fin isn’t feeling right and raise the alarm.
When Fin had one of his worst hypos and almost collapsed, it was Isaac who raced in from the garden to get me and then sat there worrying himself sick until we managed to get his sugars up.
On another occasion, when there was an ambulance parked outside my house, he was so worried something had happened to Fin that he made his mother stop the car and ring me to check up on him.
They are the best of friends, two peas in a pod and are at their happiest when they are together.
Tomorrow, this gorgeous little boy will board a plane to the North of Scotland with his family to undertake his fourth and final challenge to climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK at 1,345m with his dad and brother.
It’s the challenge he has wanted since he completed Snowdon aged 6 and he has finally convinced his parents to allow him to fulfill his dream. I just hope and pray that the weather allows him to achieve it.
I am so grateful for everything Isaac has done for us that it is impossible to put into words. Thanks also need to go to his older brother Caleb and his dad Darren who have undertaken a huge amount of the challenges with him and on occasions, probably haven’t received the gratitude they deserve for supporting him in all that he does.
With regards to Isaac’s parents, Rebekah and Darren, none of this would have been achievable for Isaac without their support. They have spent significant amounts of their own money whether buying new bikes, travelling to North Wales and now the North of Scotland, buying Ospreys shirts to raffle, paying for the JDRF wristbands and refusing to take the cost from the profits and relentlessly sharing his page to maximise the amount of money raised.
As of today he has already raised £1,775.00 in sponsorship for his Ben Nevis climb taking his total raised in just 3 years to £13,325.00! This is an outstanding achievement for a 9 year old boy.
If you would like to add to his fundraising you can sponsor him here.
In addition, if you could take the time to vote for him as Just Giving’s Young Fundraiser of the Year, you can do so here. All you need to do is simply click on his photograph and enter your email address. It takes less than a minute and doesn’t cost anything.
As for me, I will be a nervous wreck all day on Tuesday checking the weather and my phone every five minutes, but I know if there is any way for him to get to that summit safely he will do it as he is the most determined little boy I have ever met.
Good Luck Isaac, we love you for everything you have done for Fin and will never be able to thank you enough! Go smash it!