A grateful big sister has crossed the line after running a 48-mile endurance challenge and raising over £3,220 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, to say thank you for taking such good care of her baby brother, Leo, when he underwent major surgery on his skull.

15-year-old Carey Neale from Bedwas, Caerphilly, laced up her trainers to take on the 4x4x48 challenge inspired by American ultra-runner, David Goggins, running four miles, every four hours, for a total of 48-hours. In total, Carey had to set off on a four-mile run, 12 times over the course of the two days – an extreme challenge, but one that she was determined to take on for one-year-old Leo.

When Leo was eight-months-old, he was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis, a rare condition that meant his skull hadn’t developed properly. The bones that make up Leo’s skull had fused incorrectly, and earlier than they should have done, giving his head an irregular shape.

After much discussion with their local hospital, Leo’s mum, Leanne, and his dad, Sam, who is Carey’s step-dad, agreed that Leo should be referred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where specialist surgeons would break apart his skull and piece it back together like a jigsaw. With Carey still at home in Wales, and the rest of the family two hours away in Birmingham, it was a distressing time for the family, but thankfully the operation to fix Leo’s skull was a success making the time apart worth it.

Leo spent five days in hospital, and each day his big sister Carey video called for a chat. She could see for herself just how well he was coping and how quickly he was recovering. In awe of the incredible care and treatment her baby brother had received, and the help her mum and Sam had with securing overnight parents’ accommodation nearby, Carey thought about how she could say thank you to the hospital, and help other children like Leo.

Having developed a love for running during lockdown, Carey put her fitness to the test. With her own dad, Scott, by her side for company and support, she embarked on her two-day long challenge.

Carey said: “We were all really worried when Leo went to hospital, but when I could see how well he was doing after his operation, it made me want to do something to say thank you to all the staff who looked after him.

“I wanted to do something really big and push myself so the 4x4x48 challenge was perfect. By the middle of the second day, I started to feel really drained, but thinking about the hospital, and all of the poorly children who go through so much, really spurred me on. I even managed to push Leo over the finish line in his pushchair!”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Having a sibling in hospital can be an extremely anxious and unsettling time, especially when they’re so far away, but we’re so glad Carey got to see Leo’s face as he recovered, and grateful that the experience inspired such an incredible challenge! We’re in awe of Carey’s determination and will power.

“The funds she’s raised will go towards helping us do more for sick kids, just like Leo, and their families.”