A SCHOOLBOY who feared he might never walk again has overcome a serious neck injury to run a mile for charity.
James Gray, 11, who attends the Casterton, Sedbergh Preparatory School, has raised more than £21,000 in sponsorship for the run, which he hopes to complete next week, just six months after a rugby injury put him in hospital.
“When I was lying in my hospital bed, wearing neck brace, unable to move my legs, I really didn't know if I would walk again, let alone run,” explained the youngster, from Bishop Auckland, who finally returned to school last month.
“It wasn't until February that I was told I could start jogging again.
“I am aware that many injured rugby players will never be able to run a mile again and so this was my pledge.”
His mum, Emma Gray, explained that the injury - which affected his neck - happened last September.
“As James failed to get up after falling, I could tell from his eyes that something was not right,” she said.
“I suddenly realised that despite being asked to move his toes and legs, nothing was happening.
“The panic in James’ eyes is something I never want to see again.”
She said it took two hours before he was able to move his toes on his left foot, and it was days before he was able to take steps unaided.
He continues to have loss of sensation down his right hand side.
“James’ acceptance, determination and amazing light-hearted nature when faced with adversity has all helped to carry us through the darkest of times,” added the mum of three rubgy-loving boys.
Now James, who wants to become a rugby referee, hopes to run a mile on March 27 to raise money for the RFU Injured Players Foundation.
He initially aimed to raise £200 - but as word spread through the school and rugby community, it quickly became thousands.
"What James is doing is quite tremendous,” said school headmaster, Scott Carnochan.
“I often challenge our pupils to find ways of how they can make a real difference to those who are less fortunate than us, so it is heart-warming to see James taking up the challenge.
“The sum of money raised is staggering and I know that James is training hard to achieve his one-mile challenge.”
He can be sponsored online at www.justgiving.com/JamesGrayChallenge