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A Darlington mechanic has set the wheels in motion on a fundraising effort that will see him compete in the British 24-hour Championship Kart Race in order to raise vital funds into research for his son’s cancer treatment.

Wayne and Danielle Clark, both 32 from Darlington have been through a lot since their son Reuben was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma.

In October 2016 at just 16 months-old, Reuben went from being a happy and healthy toddler to losing all interest in life. After initial investigations by doctors in Darlington, Reuben was transferred immediately to the Great North Children’s Hospital.

Scans revealed Reuben had a large tumour growing in his abdomen, crushing his right kidney, pushing up against his lung and wrapped around a main artery, preventing him from breathing normally.

Following this initial diagnosis, Reuben endured eight gruelling rounds of chemotherapy within just four months and in January this year underwent 10 hours of surgery followed by four anxious nights in intensive care. After further chemo and radiotherapy treatment earlier this year, in June Reuben began a six month course of immunotherapy.

This summer Wayne will lead a team of friends as they compete in the 20th annual kart race, taking place at the Teesside Autodrome 12 – 13 August, in a bid to raise £2000 for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research fund (NECCR).

As a team of four, Wayne alongside friends Mark and Ryan White from Newcastle and Alun Davis-Adams from Wolsingham, will each complete a six-hour stint behind the wheel of their go-kart, racing with up to 60 other teams at the event.

Wayne said: “Competing in the kart race will be a real test of our skill, stamina, endurance and teamwork, but bares no comparison to the challenge Reuben has faced over the past year.

“The treatment process has consumed our whole lives. So many nights spent in hospital seeing our boy in pain, the numerous drugs we had to administer, shaving his hair off when it started to fall out, having to feed him through a tube with a feed bag and not being able to pick him up – probably the hardest part of all.

“Reuben celebrated his second birthday on 8 June thanks to the lifesaving treatment he received at the Great North Children’s Hospital. The way he has dealt with his treatment has made Danielle and I so proud. He’s amazed the doctors with his ability to bounce back quicker than expected and hasn’t let any of his ordeal hold him back from growing, smiling, discovering and learning. He has no idea how special and inspirational he is to us and everyone who knows about his journey.

“We heard about the NECCR through our time spent on the children’s oncology ward at the RVI. After experiencing first-hand how important the research undertaken here in the North East is to helping children fight cancer we knew we had to help in any way that we could.”

Fundraising Manager at the NECCR, Janet Price, said: “Despite the dramatic increase in survival rates cancer still remains the biggest cause of childhood death in the UK.

“There is an urgent need for more innovative and less toxic treatments, especially as the overall number of children surviving cancer in childhood is increasing, meaning more children are living with the long-term effects of their medication.

“Research institutes like the Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre in Newcastle rely on the generosity and support of local people like the Clark family to help fund research into new therapies, less aggressive treatments and clinical trials taking place in the region.”

Supporters of Wayne’s karting challenge can visit https://www.facebook.com/race4reuben/ where they can follow the team’s race preparation and access live updates on the day from the annual British 24-hour Championships.

To donate to the team’s fundraising appeal, visit: www.justgiving.com/race4reuben

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