Owls mad 10-year-old in new challenge for Bluebell Wood

Shay O’Grady, the big-hearted ten-year-old who’s raised tens of thousands of pounds for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice to help his cousin Evie-Mae, is inspiring others once again with a ‘pawfectly’ pooch-friendly challenge.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 11:31 am

Sheffield Wednesday superfan Shay and his dad Jason, fatigued by lockdown and its impact on motivation and mental health, have enlisted their dogs Macie and Belle to help boost morale and raise much-needed funds for the hospice.

Shay, his family and some friends are aiming to cover 768 miles between them this February – the distance the Owls’ will cover travelling to away games this month – with their faithful furry friends by their sides.

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Shay with his beloved cousin Evie-Mae

Shay, whose beloved cousin Evie-Mae is su pported by Bluebell Wood, raised over £11,000 for the charity last year through his football-related triathlon. Since starting fundraising for Bluebell Wood at just four-years-old, Shay’s now raised around £34,000 for the charity.

“Like for most people, the last few months have really got to us. With schools closed, holidays being cancelled and everything else, it just takes its toll,” said Jason, from Ecclesfield.

“I know it’s the same for lots of our friends too, and that’s when we came up with the idea of doing this challenge not only to raise funds, but to give us something to focus on.

“It’s about giving you that motivation to get out and clear your head, however much you might not feel like it.

Shay with his four-legged friends Belle and Macie

“Before we knew it we had seven people and nine dogs on board, so we’re all doing around three miles each day between us.

“Even though we’re all doing it separately in line with the latest restrictions, it’s brought us together as a team. Despite the awful weather everyone’s absolutely smashed and we’re so proud of everyone.

“And Shay’s loving it too – although he wasn’t so keen last week when it was minus six degrees!”

Shay with Owls Chairman Dejphon Chansiri at Hillsborough after his 2019 challenge

Shay’s numerous fundraising challenges are inspired by his cousin Evie-Mae O’Grady Askwith, aged nine, from Ecclesfield, who has an extremely rare chromosome deletion disorder which means she can’t walk or talk and needs round the clock care.

So far the team have raised over £550, follow their progress on Twitter @ShaysTriathlo n.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, ed itor