‘Super’ 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.

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 a whopping 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.

Shay, whose beloved cousin Evie-Mae is supported by Bluebell Wood, raised over £11,000 for the charity last year through his epic 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.

“Before we knew it we had 7 people and nine dogs on board, so we’re all doing around 3 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 6 degrees!”

Shay’s numerous fundraising challenges are inspired by his cousin Evie-Mae O’Grady Askwith, 9, from Ecclesfield, who has an extremely rare chromosome deletion disorder which means she can’t walk or talk and needs round the clock care.

Evie and her family have been visiting Bluebell Wood for a helping hand for several years, and mum Keeley is grinding out the miles with their dog, Nala.

“We’ll do anything we can for Evie and to help raise funds for Bluebell Wood,” said Keeley. 

“Taking part in the challenge has been brilliant. It just motivates you to get out and have that break from being at home, and I feel so much better for it.

“I’ve enjoyed it so much I’m going to carry on after February!”

So far the team have raised over £1,000 with their dog-walking challenge and you can follow their progress on Twitter by searching @ShaysTriathlon. The daily walks are also offering practice for Shay’s next big triathlon, where he plans to swim 20,000 metres and then walk all the way to Derby County’s Pride  Park ground from Hillsborough ahead of the Championship clash before cycling the return  journey.

Sally Baker, Regional Fundraiser at Bluebell Wood, said: “Shay really is an extraordinary young man we’re incredibly proud of everything he’s achieved for his beautiful cousin, Evie.

“This latest challenge is the perfect antidote to lockdown and it’s great to hear the team are enjoying it so much.

“A huge thank you to Shay, Jason, Keeley and everyone else taking part for going the extra mile (or 768!) for Bluebell Wood.

“A special thank you to their four-legged friends too who will deserve lots of treats after this.”