When Josh Llewellyn-Jones was just two years old he saw a doctor in America, who told his parents that Josh should “run his legs off”.
The reason? To save his life.
Josh was born with cystic fibrosis, a life-limiting condition that affects the lungs and other major organs.
He was initially given a 10% chance of surviving his first night due to complications. Then they said he would be unlikely to live past the age of 30.
But now aged 32, Josh has raised more than £800,000 after completing physical challenges each year since he turned 17.
He set up the charity CF Warriors which has built an online community for children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and Josh encourages children with the condition to be active.
“People with cystic fibrosis can’t meet each other because of the risk of spreading infections. We can pass bugs to each other which could result in pretty bad chest infections which can be fatal for people with CF.
“So it can be quite isolating, not being able to meet other people like you.
“Having an online community helps children feel like they are part of something. When you are in something with other people, it becomes a lot easier,” said Josh, who lives in Cowbridge .
The charity sends out packs which include sports wear to encourage children with CF to stay fit and active.
Josh added that he wants to inspire all children to commit to exercise its physical and mental health benefits.
He admitted that the feelings of isolation combined with being told your life expectancy may be different from those without CF previously had an impact on his mental health.
“When I was growing up I wouldn’t tell people about it, I didn’t want people to see me differently because of it.
“I grew up with doctors telling me the average life expectancy is really low so that had an impact on me. I’m lucky that I have a family who have always supported me and because of that I have a positive life outlook.
“I have turned that low life expectancy into a challenge, and I have said, ‘well that is not going to be me’.”
Josh has completed challenges on a yearly basis from the age of 17, when he climbed Mount Killimanjaro.
For his 30th birthday, he completed a 24-hour test that included lifting 100 tonnes of weights, cycling 100 miles, rowing and running 10 miles each and performing thousands of sit-ups, press-ups and squats.
The challenges he has set himself each year have defied the odds for people born with cystic fibrosis, and in doing so he has raised more than £800,000.
He has also taken on other ultra-endurance challenges, and in October this year he completed his latest – swimming the English Channel, cycling 200 miles to Twickenham and then running 160 miles home to Cardiff all in five days with no rest.
Earlier this week, Josh was recognised for his fundraising and was honoured with the Sporting Fundraiser award at this year’s Mirror Pride of Sport Awards.
After attending the star-studded awards which are backed by Sport England and now in their sixth year, Josh said: “I just felt honoured to be on stage with some pretty incredible people. For me, it was not just my efforts, it was my whole team.”
Josh’s next challenge is to complete 24 marathons in 24 days, which will be a total of 628 miles. Josh said he is feeling up to the challenge and has been preparing my completing ultra marathons in the lead up to the event, which he will start on April 3 and end on April 26.
If you would like to make a donation ahead of Josh’s next challenge, click here.