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Thurston boy Jake Brooks, 12, loses ability to walk after Covid-19 exacerbates life-limiting illness

A mother says the ‘amazing’ response to a charity she set up has helped her through a tough year after her young son contracted Covid-19 which exacerbated a life-limiting illness and left him unable to walk unaided.

Stephanie Brooks and her 12-year-old son Jake, of Thurston, have forms of mitochondrial disease, a complex illness which reduces the amount of energy cells produce and affects their mobility.

To raise awareness and funds for research into the condition, they launched their own charity Steph and Jake’s Mito Mission which celebrated its first anniversary last Monday and has raised £3,500.

Jake Brooks with his mum Stephanie and dad Paul. Picture: Mark Westley
Jake Brooks with his mum Stephanie and dad Paul. Picture: Mark Westley

For Stephanie, the support for the charity, an umbrella of My Mito Mission, has been ‘amazing’ and offered some respite after Jake caught Covid-19 in April which had a knock-on effect on his condition and severely impacted his mobility.

“He’s now unable to walk independently at all so he uses his walker but he mainly chooses to crawl,” she said. “We’ve been told by Jake’s consultant that he won’t get that independent walking back.”

Although Jake’s dad Paul also caught Covid, Stephanie managed to avoid it and is determined to persevere despite her illness which causes pain and affects her balance and memory.

She plans to hold an awareness day this Saturday at Thurston Co-op and will shave her head in aid of the charity at Dapper Dean’s Barber Shop on September 25.

Stephanie is appealing for people to take part in World Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week from September 19 to 25 by lighting up their homes and businesses green - the My Mito Mission colour.

She is also calling on pubs and restaurants to come up with a new green dish or drink on their menu with a percentage to be donated to the charity.

Stephanie added: “We’re all so happy that we started the charity. I’m trying to put as much energy as I can into it to try to make a difference and it distracts me from everything going on day to day.”

Meanwhile, the Brooks family has embarked on a project to make their garden more accessible for Jake and install a bespoke building to house their hot tub which he uses for hydroptherapy.

Paul is running the virtual London Marathon to raise funds and his work Killik & Co has donated £10,000, while the family’s efforts have generated more than £3,000.

Visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/TheBrooksFamilyGardenProject

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