A SPECIAL charity has celebrated a special anniversary.

Children with disabilities and their families, business supporters and volunteers got together to mark the 20th anniversary of Children Today.

The event was held by Children Today at the Bolton Whites Hotel and, as regional fundraiser Elizabeth Oakes explained, it “gave the opportunity for so many people involved in the charity to come together”.

Children Today was founded in 1994 to help disabled children and young people up to the age of 25 enjoy a better quality of life by providing them with the specialised equipment they need.

Since it began, the charity has helped 4,000 children and young people with everything from trikes to tailor-made wheelchairs and a variety of vital equipment in between.

In Bolton, which has its own active fundraising committee, 80 local children have benefitted from the charity’s work.

These include families like the Hillyards, from Lightbounds Road in Bolton.

Sharon and Stephen Hillyard’s young son, Reece, has the mind of a toddler because he has epilepsy, autism spectrum disorder and development delay.

Two years ago, they were unable to go out as a family because Reece needed a special buggy with restraints as he would easily run off.

Mr and Mrs Hillyard joined other fundraisers at a variety of events, including the Boundary Walk organised by the charity, and helped to raise money towards equipment for several children.

As a result, the family was able to receive a specialist buggy which, as Mr Hillyard says: “Changed our family’s lives — we were finally all able to go out together.”

The family has continued to support the charity.

Now, Reece, aged eight, needs a specialist trike and Children Today has once more stepped in to order this important piece of equipment — coloured red to reflect the family’s favourite football club, Manchester United.

Mrs Hillyard said: “Children Today has been amazing with us. They’ve done so much and we are very grateful — Reece is really looking forward to his own special bike.”

Among the corporate supporters at the Macron Stadium event were business people who have been raising money for the charity through events or sponsorship, and several who went on a trek to Peru earlier this year to raise thousands of pounds.

The next challenge event in 2015 is in Cuba, sponsored by solicitors Farleys Law, and Kate Silvers, from the company, was also on hand at the local event.

Ms Oakes, said: “We are so grateful to all the people who help us.

“What they allow us to do changes not only the lives of the children but the lives of so many families. And this special anniversary is a milestone in making a difference — something we hope to do for many years to come.”