THE father of a brave little boy with a rare and painful skin condition has taken on a gruelling cycling challenge to raise funds and awareness.

Mason Crossley was just four months old when he was diagnosed with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), an incurable genetic condition resulting in skin so fragile it can tear and blister at the slightest touch. It can affect any part of the body but for Mason, who lives in Crook with his parents Miles and Sam Crossley, it his eyes that cause the most pain.

There are times when the five-year-old can barely open his eyes, for fear of bursting the blisters with his eyelids - a situation that can last for weeks if not months. Every morning and evening Mr and Mrs Crossley have to wrap fresh bandages around Mason’s arms and anywhere else where blisters and wounds have developed.

Seeing their son in so much pain and unable to join in football games with his friends is heartbreaking for the couple, who had no idea they were both carriers of this largely unknown condition.

Keen to raise awareness, along with vital funds for research into a cure, Mr Crossley has taken on an epic sponsored cycling challenge.

The 34-year-old, who is head of business development at George F White chartered surveyors, has already completed the notoriously tough Fred Whitton Challenge on May 13. The 112-mile race through the Lake District is considered one of the most difficult in cycling, with a total climb of 12,000ft.

Next month, Mr Crossley will complete the equivalent height of Mount Everest by cycling up and down Crawleyside Bank in Stanhope. And in July, he will cycle 325-mile, from London to Paris, in three days.

With the support of his friends and colleagues at George F White, he has already raised more than £2,000 for DEBRA UK, an international medical research charity dedicated to the curing of EB.

Mr Crossley, who has also helped raise thousands of pounds for cancer charities over the years, said: “We have no idea what Mason’s long-term outlook is or how long he will be with us, as there is a high risk of skin cancer. We are facing new challenges each day. I’ve always been a firm believer in supporting charities involved in research. It’s so important we find a cure.”

Mrs Crossley said: “Some people think EB is just bad skin and this can be so frustrating as Mason and other sufferers spend their lives fighting to survive. There are often days when we just want to cry our eyes out but we have to be strong for Mason.”

Mother and son have been cheering Mr Crossley on at cycling events on the run up to the challenge.

The cyclist said: “At the end of the Fred Whitton, Mason pulled me aside and said to me ‘I’m proud of you dad.’ That meant so much.”

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