Big hearted Burnley dad keeps promise he made to help child born with same rare condition as his own son

A Burnley father has fulfilled a promise he made to help a child who has the same rare genetic condition as his own son.

Big hearted dad Tariq Khan with his wife Kirsty and their children Kalam, who is almost 10 and  14-year-old Sophia.
Big hearted dad Tariq Khan with his wife Kirsty and their children Kalam, who is almost 10 and 14-year-old Sophia.

Tariq Khan was on holiday in Turkey with his family, including his son Kalam, who suffers from a rare condition that doctors have not been able to diagnose, when he was approached by the brother of a child with the same illness.

It was a one-in-a-million chance meeting that moved Tariq to tears when waiter, Mehmet Gezer, showed him photographs of his little brother Shukru who looked strikingly similar to Kalam who has severe and complex disabilities.

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Shukru, who is now 14, also shared many of the same symptoms as Kalam such as not being able to walk, talk or eat solids.

Shukru, the little Turkish boy that Burnley dad and gym owner Tariq Khan is helping to have a better life.

And when Tariq, who was joined on the trip by his wife, Kirsty and their daughter Sophia, who is 14, heard that Shukru lived in a very poor village with access to physiotherapy but very little else, he vowed to do something to help.

On his return to the UK Tariq launched a fund raising appeal to source a gait trainer similar to the one that Kalam has that helps him to stand and walk unaided and also increases mobility.

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Tariq was inundated with support and offers of help for his mercy mission and it has taken two years to find and buy the right model.

The joint owner of the Muscle Factory gym in Burnley's Danehouse is now preparing to fly back out to Turkey and present the trainer to Shukru's family in the next few weeks.

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Tariq said: “The chances of winning the Lottery were higher than us meeting this man and I believe it was fate and God who brought us together for a reason.

“And that was for us to realise that there are other people in our situation, even though it is rare, and for us to see we have the ability to help them.”

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Tariq has sent out a thank you to everyone who helped him and made donations, including his brother and business partner, Buddy Khan, adding: "The change this family will experience is priceless."

Tariq, who regularly opens his gym for the homeless and vulnerable to go along for food and company on special occasions such as Christmas and Eid, has kept in touch with Shukru's family since first meeting them in 2017.

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The big hearted dad is also hoping that people in Burnley will continue to support him as he tries to source and purchase an indoor adjustable mobile seat with a removable desk/tray for Shukru.

He added: "Kalam has one and it makes our lives so much easier. Kalam absolutely loves using it too as he can sit at the table with us and be more involved.

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"Raising children isn't easy but raising ones with additional needs is even harder but incredibly rewarding at the same time.

"Kalam brings joy and smiles to our lives everyday and we wouldn't have it any other way."