Cross country in aid of brave William

William Stones with Dale 'Ronnie' Staton.
William Stones with Dale 'Ronnie' Staton.
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Dale ‘Ronnie’ Staton ran the 200-mile Wainwright Coast to Coast route non-stop in 55 hours. Catherine Scott reports.

It may have seemed like mission impossible but fitness instructor Dale “Ronnie” Staton has succeeded in running the 200-mile Coast to Coast route non-stop.

It took him 55 hours to make his way cross country from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.

The reason for Ronnie taking on the extreme run is William Stones. William was born healthy, but when he went into hospital at 14 months old suffering from an upper airway infection he suffered a cardiac arrest. As a result, William was left with cerebral palsy.

For six months he could do nothing except lie in a hospital bed. He lost his ability to do everything – he had no sight, no hearing and no movement.

William, now four, through the dedication and hard work of his mother Julie and father Dave has got his sight back, can crawl and stands up. But he still cannot walk and it is unlikely he will ever be able to talk.

“He is doing so well, he’s the same smiley little boy we nearly lost so many times during the early days,” says Dave. “He manages to pull himself up and crawl round the furniture, but he still cannot talk. We can understand when he wants something or is not happy. But he does get very frustrated.”

William underwent major surgery at Leeds General Infirmary last year to repair his heart, which is all now fixed.

The family have undertaken lots of private therapies up and down the country and hope to do more in the future, having set up the William Stones Trust Fund.

The Stones have an older son, Alfie, who is now six.Ronnie met William and Dave for the first time at a children’s Olympic event in July last year and within weeks plans for the ultra-run started to be put into place.

“I used to play football with Ronnie’s brother but hadn’t seen him for years. I knew he did runs for charity and asked if he ever did one again he might consider doing it for William,” says Dave.

“Within a matter of weeks he had come up with the idea of running coast to coast across Britain.”

“Doctors told William he would never walk because he had no head control. He gained it. Then the experts said he would not walk because he could not sit up. William can now sit up. Don’t tell me William will not walk. I want to help him on his journey,” Ronnie explains.

So Ronnie came up with the plan of running the 198 miles Wainwright Coast to Coast.

Ronnie, an instructor at Outklass Fitness, near Retford, is no stranger to long-distance running, although he only started running five years ago. However, prior to the Coast to Coast challenge the longest he had ever run non-stop was 100 miles.

The Wainright C2C is nearly double that and Ronnie spent nine months in training for the ultra run.

“We are delighted and very proud of this achievement and we managed to raise lots of funds for William’s therapy,” says Dave, a business development manager in Leeds. “We are so proud of everyone at ‘Team William’. We have been overwhelmed with support from people.

“The time was 55 hours to complete the course and I even managed to run the first eight and last 16 miles – he was too quick for me at first.”

Talking about William, Dave said: “I know I’m biased but he’s so inspirational – for him to have gone through what he has at such a young age puts everything into perspective.

“He’s just a happy, lovely little boy who is battling against adversity.”

The money raised from Ronnie’s challenge will go towards William’s ongoing treatment which has so far helped him stand up and walk in a specialised walker.

Dave is passionate about raising awareness about children with disabilities and regularly gives talks on the subject. “I want people to accept that, although a child may have a disability, they are no different really to anyone else,” he says.

“I know I will probably never be able to make William speak, but I want to be able to turn round to my sons in the future and say I did everything I could.”

Dave also wants to create a charity to help other children, as well as William, possibly through sport.

In the last nine months £17,000 has been raised for William.

WEST TO EAST ON EPIC CHALLENGE

The Coast to Coast Walk is a 182-mile (293km) unofficial and mostly unsignposted long-distance footpath.

Devised by Alfred Wainwright, it passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.

Ronnie Staton was not the first person to run the route. In 1991, it was run in 39 hours 36 minutes and 52 seconds by Mike Hartley, setting a new record.

For more information on William and his fund visit www.williamstonestrustfund.com