GYM enthusiasts did more than 4,000 sit ups and almost 5,000 air squats over a 24-hour period on the weekend to raise funds for a disabled Newport tot.

Simon Hard, 22, organised the "gym-a-thon" at Functional Fitness in Newport to raise £1,500 for his 21-month-old nephew Casey Hard, of Coedkernew, who was born with spastic diplegia and cerebral palsy.

Casey's parents Anthony and Nahella Hard, who also have a 10-year-old daughter, Reagan, have been raising money to help improve their son's quality of life for over a year and are in the process of building an extension to their house so Casey can have his own downstairs bedroom and wet room, as he's becoming too heavy to carry upstairs.

Mr Hard, 35, recently helped his son, who is fed using a stomach peg or "button", to experience the sensation of walking using a special leg harness bought using money raised by Casey's Cause. The family have also been able to install air conditioning, buy Casey a specialised bed and seats and recently they took him on holiday to Devon for the first time.

Uncle Simon, 22, was spurred on by his friend Patrick James, also 22, to organise the gym-a-thon after Mr James mooted the idea of doing 24-hour rugby.

"I did 24-hour football for the Luca appeal two or three years ago and my friend wanted to do something for my nephew so suggested 24-hour rugby," said Mr Hard. "But I said, that's another level, and we came up with the idea of the gym."

Joined by his three brothers Anthony, Michael, 33, and Thomas, 31, as well as friends Mr James, Joseph Dineen, 22, Joshua Davidson, 24, and gym owner Leon Goodman, 22, the gang completed more than 40,000 reps throughout the 24 hours including barbell curls, flat bench lifts, lateral pull-downs, tricep push downs, air squats, tractor tyre flips, sit ups and box steps.

During the day on Saturday they had a barbecue outside the gym and there was a Muay Thai session for members of the public, while Mr Hard's niece collected donations from passers-by taking part in the "No to Nato" march through the city.

They munched on fruit and pasta supplied by Mr Goodman's mother as well as chocolate bars, sweets and energy drinks to see them through the wee hours, with 2am to 5am being the toughest stint, said Mr Hard.

"I'm tired to say the least!" he told the Argus yesterday (Sunday). "We got a bit competitive, one of the boys did 2,000 reps on the flat bench alone. We're still collecting sponsorship money but we've got around £1,500 at the moment, if not more. It was really good, people were so generous."

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