A north-east dad has walked more than 1,000 miles in memory of a teenager who battled cancer.
Dylan Lewis, from Tarves, passed away in July 2016 just two days before his 15th birthday after a brave fight against the disease.
Before he died, the Meldrum Academy pupil spent time at Calum’s Cabin, a retreat for children with cancer and their families on the Isle of Bute.
Now family friend Michael Capocci, 49, who lives in Mains of Tarty, has taken on an intrepid challenge to support the charity in a bid to help other families like Dylan’s.
He decided to take on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, starting on March 31.
Along the way the dad-of-three encountered desert heat, snow and ice and perilously high altitudes – even rescuing a fellow walker from a treacherous mountain slide.
Although bad weather forced him to quit last week at the 1,000-mile mark, he has raised a four-figure sum for the charity – and plans to return in the future to complete the trek.
Michael said: “I wanted to do something memorable before turning 50 and had originally intended to do the Appalachian Trail which I researched further by reading the book Into The Woods by Bill Bryson, but then I watched the movie Wild and decided it looked easier.
“It was also more picturesque, covering varied climates and landscapes.
“Friends said I was mad, my dad said ‘why would you want to do that?’ but my wife Fleur was fully supportive and actively encouraged me out of the door.
“I’ve raised £1,326 so far. If it contributes towards children in the same position as Dylan was having somewhere to stay that is the most important thing.”
Fleur, 48, added: “Dylan’s family used Calum’s Cabin several times and often told me how much difference it had made to them, not least because it meant they met other families going through the same experience. I can’t think of a better charity to support.
“I am very proud of him – I can’t really put into words how much. I think the fact he decided to do it for charity impressed me the most.
“He didn’t have to do that as he was going to do the trek anyway. That really made me proud.”
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Calum’s Cabin was set up by the family of Bute youngster Calum Speirs, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 12.
The cabin, which Calum discussed with his family before he passed away, provides a place for children and their families to make special memories together.
It also provides accommodation in Glasgow for families while their children are being treated.
Dylan’s mum Dawn, 42 – who was also part of a team who took on the Kiltwalk for Calum’s Cabin last month – said: “We are so grateful. Michael knew Dylan from when he was really young so for him to do the trek in his memory is absolutely amazing.
“Dylan went to Calum’s Cabin loads. The charity is just amazing.
“He absolutely loved it. He was able to go all over the world but the place he always wanted to go back to was the cabin.”
Dawn, who is also mum to one-year-old Wyatt with husband James, 33, added: “We went back to the cabin for five days after Dylan died and it wasn’t a sad place at all.
“It was a place that was full of happy memories for us. It’s such a special place and one Dylan absolutely loved.
“It is such an amazing charity which helps so many children and families like ours.
“We are so grateful to Michael for everything he has done to raise money for the cabin.”