To enter the Simplyhealth Great South 5k or the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit: Greatrun.org/South

A young woman will take on a 5k running challenge this Autumn to raise money to support her baby cousin who was left paralysed from the neck down.

Jessica Coster, from Southampton, wants to raise money for her cousin Archie Adam's medical care after he was left paralysed when he caught a virus that made his spinal cord swell up when he was just 18 months old.

Archie, now three, now cannot breathe unaided and now has a pacemaker fitted.

Due to the unpredictability of his condition, his Mum Karen and Dad Russell were forced to move back to his grand parents as they could not afford to keep up their home and be constantly at their son's side.

The family had their lives turned upside down as they had to adapt their home for Archie to get in and out of the house.

His condition also means that he requires a modified wheelchair and breathing machines.

Jessica decided she wanted to fundraise to help pay for the costs of Archie's equipment and signed up to the Simplyhealth Great South 5k on Saturday 21 October.

Jessica, 21, said: “Archie was a happy and healthy child until 9 May 2015 when everything changed.

“He was 18 months old when he caught a virus and his body had a reaction to it which made his spinal cord swell up. This condition is called transverse myelitis.

“The swelling eventually went down but it unfortunately left permanent damage on his spinal cord.

“This made Archie paralysed from the neck down and he now lives with a tracheostomy as he cannot breathe on his own.

“My aunty and uncle couldn't afford to keep up their home and constantly be at his side as he needs lots of medical equipment and care, so life has changed massively for the whole family.

“Archie was always such a happy and excitable little boy and had just started to be able to run around when this happened so to see him now, not being able to do much own is heart breaking.

“I would do anything to see him running around or to hear his voice again and we have all pulled together to help look after him and his brothers and sisters.

“We have managed to raise a lot for Archie already but every little helps and by taking on the 5k, I want to be able to play my part in the fundraising.”

Jessica will join 1,000 other participants who kick off a packed weekend of sport in Portsmouth and Southsea on the weekend of 21 and 22 October.

Jessica will take on the Simplyhealth Great South 5k, a fast and flat route that is perfect for those who don't feel able to take on 10 miles at the Simplyhealth Great South Run the next day.

25,000 runners will take part in a festival of sport that weekend, featuring the world's leading 10 mile run.

Jessica is taking on her first ever running event for Archie, but by taking on something that is a huge challenge for her, she hopes that her cousin will be proud of her efforts.

Jessica, who works as a payroll clerk for the NHS, added: “By doing this event, I hope that people are made aware of the severity of Archie's condition and hopefully I can also get sponsorships towards his medical care.

“My auntie has got three other children aged nine, two and six weeks, so we as a family are making every effort to help them where needed.

"As Archie gets older, the more equipment and care he will need as he will eventually need a full time physiotherapist and a speech therapist.

“My training has been going great, it's been really tough but I want to make Archie proud and get to the finishing line.

“It is going to be a massive challenge as I have never done anything like this before but I am confident that I will be able to do it and then hopefully start doing longer runs in the future.”

To support Jessica's fundraising, click here.

To enter the Simplyhealth Great South 5k or the Simplyhealth Great South Run, visit: Greatrun.org/South