A young south Belfast boy has inspired the Lord Mayor to get on his running shoes for this year's Laganside 10K.
Councillor Mairtin O'Muilleoir, who can often be seen pounding the city's streets, is taking part in support of official charity the Northern Ireland's Children's Hospice which has proved a lifeline to four year old Mason McIlveen and his family.
Mason was born with a range of complex conditions. As well as being diagnosed with Down Syndrome, he has breathing difficulties and is unable to swallow. He suffered five cardiac arrests within the first three months of his life due to a heart defect, and continues to need constant specialist care.
Mason is peg fed and depends on a trachie to help him breathe – as well as the Children's Hospice – the only service of its kind in Northern Ireland caring for children like Mason, with complex needs who require 24 hour specialist care.
Encouraging people to register for the Laganside 10K and fundraise for Children's Hospice, Mr Ó Muilleoir said: "Having met little Mason to launch the Laganside 10K, it was impossible not to be touched by his fighting spirit and infectious personality. Having been fitted with a voice valve, Mason is able make lots of noises and join in with his twin brother, Grant to keep his parents, Raymond and Patty on their toes.
"From speaking to Mason's parents, it's clear that the care provided by the Children's Hospice is invaluable to families," he added.
The Laganside 10K on Sunday, September 1 will suit running enthusiasts, those training for a marathon, and those who simply wish to take part and run for the local charity.
As well the 10K event, starting at 2pm, there is also a children's one mile race which starts at 1.30pm and is suitable for children under the age of 16 years.
NI Children's Hospice Events Fundraiser, Matthew Allen said: "The Laganside event is a 10K run, making it perfect for beginners, as well as more experienced athletes. With the Children's 1 Mile Race, the whole family can get involved for one last challenge before the summer ends. Sponsorship money raised from the Children's Race or the 10K will help us to continue providing the special care that Mason, and other children with life-limiting conditions, requires. Just £30 in sponsorship money could pay for one hour of specialist nursing care for a child."
The Laganside 10K is an annual event organised by the North Belfast Harriers, beginning at the Ozone Complex, Ormeau Embankment. Registration costs £12 for a Hospice entry, and £3 for the Children's 1 Mile Race. To register visit www.laganside10k.com, or call 028 9077 7123 for more information on fundraising for Children's Hospice.