HE’S walked 500 miles for a cancer-stricken toddler he’s never met.
But Kevin Perisi said every step “was worth it” to raise awareness and funds for little Kai Laidlaw, who is fighting leukaemia for the third time in his short life.
Even though I had never met him, his story touched my heart, and I wanted to do something”KEVIN PERISI
Welcomed by a group of 100 people, including Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh and Kai’s emotional father Calvin, Kevin arrived at the Tramways Bowling Club in Rosslyn Crescent yesterday afternoon – after completing his journey in three-and-a-half weeks.
Exhausted and overwhelmed by the support, the painter and decorator from Oxford said he first learned of Kai’s story through friends in Edinburgh, and by reading coverage in the Evening News.
He said: “I first found out about Kai when my friends told me they were going to a fundraising event for him in Edinburgh.
“I then started following his journey avidly – reading articles about him and following his Facebook page.
“Even though I had never met him, his story touched my heart, and I wanted to do something.”
Kai, from Leith, was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in September 2013, when he was just eight months old.
His mum, Pam Neilson, revealed in October that the cancer had returned for a third time and the family were practically living at the Sick Kids hospital in Glasgow.
Kevin, 50, who began his journey in Portsmouth, said he “zig-zagged across the country” to reach Edinburgh, telling people along the way of Kai’s story.
He also wrote a song, named Beautiful Boy, which was released on iTunes yesterday.
He said: “It was the Proclaimers song that actually gave me the idea to walk 500 miles.
“It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but I was determined to get here for the 18th, the day Beautiful Boy was released, a song I wrote about Kai.”
Kevin managed to raise £16,000 on his travels, and Calvin said he couldn’t thank him enough.
With tears in his eyes, he said: “It’s absolutely amazing someone we don’t know has done this for our son, I’m just feeling very emotional.”
Welsh said: “It was an incredibly generous thing for Kevin to do.
“I think it was a wake-up call to the rest of us that more needs to be done and more awareness needs to be raised.
“It’s fantastic how much it has brought the community together to support little Kai.”