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Dad Charisma Agbonlahor, brother of Aston Villa striker Gabby, is taking on the 13.1-mile challenge of the Great Birmingham Run to raise money for the charity that is helping his daughter.

Charisma, aged 29, will be joining thousands of runners for the event on Sunday 19 October, to support Cannock-based national children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation. Newlife is currently helping two-year-old Jayla Agbonlahor by providing a specialist bed to keep her safe at night.

Shortly after her first birthday, little Jayla – from Erdington – suddenly stopped breathing. She was in hospital for the next five months.

Mum Louise Bostock said: “It was a terrible time. At first the doctors thought they were dealing with epilepsy but they have now put it down to a degenerative brain syndrome.”

Jayla – who cannot walk or talk and is fed through her stomach by a tube – has frequent seizures and needs to be properly positioned for her own safety. Using a standard cot that wasn’t adequate for her care needs resulted in frequent stays in hospital. She urgently needed a specialist cot bed costing thousands of pounds.

Louise said: “Staff at the Acorns hospice and my community nurse told me about Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. I was amazed and really pleased at how quickly the charity responded to my call for help.

The bed tilts, so she can be properly positioned to help prevent choking, and rises up and down, which helps me with my own health problems – I have severe arthritis and a degenerative spine condition. It has made a huge difference to our daily lives.”

Dad Charisma, who will be starting the new soccer season playing for Alvechurch FC, said: “Louise and I want to say ‘thank you’ to Newlife Foundation for providing the bed so I am taking on the Great Birmingham Run challenge. I currently go to the gym and do cardio exercises but starting the new season’s training will help get me ready for the event.”

He added: “I may ask my brother for a few training tips – but I’ll certainly be asking him for sponsorship.

“I would encourage other people to join the ‘Newlife team’ for the Great Birmingham Run so that, together, we can help other disabled children like my lovely Jayla.”

Anyone wanting to sponsor Charisma can go to his JustGiving site: 

Jayla’s equipment was provided through Newlife Foundation’s Emergency Bed Loan (EBL) service. This was launched earlier this year (2014) as a direct response to calls from families whose children are sleeping in unsafe environments or need additional support to leave hospital.

EBL is just one of a range of support services offered to families of disabled and terminally ill children throughout the UK. For instance, last year (2013/14), Newlife funded over 1,300 Equipment Grants totalling £2,088,105 (117 of these children were in the West Midlands).

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “With statutory services across the UK implementing continued budget cuts, we expect to see more and more families turn to Newlife Foundation for help. That’s why we’re appealing for ‘local heroes’ to fundraise to help other disabled and terminally ill children in the West Midlands.”

If you have already signed up to the Great Birmingham Run and would like to raise money for Newlife – or Jayla’s story has inspired you to now give it a go, call the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on freephone 0800 988 4640 or email

Newlife is a ‘Gold Bond’ partner for the Great Birmingham Run, which is the biggest event of its kind in the West Midlands. For £20 you can secure a guaranteed place – all we ask is that you raise £130 for Newlife. Pictured: Jayla Agbonlahor

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