A nine-year-old from Bexley who was born with a criss-cross heart is smashing a charity bike ride where she aims to complete a half marathon over the course of January.

Amaris is currently working on her Charities and Influencers badges for Brownies and decided that she wanted to raise money for Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation (ECHO) – which is a very special charity to her and her mum Belinda Raji.

Amaris is a CHD (Congenital Heart Defects) hero as she was born with a criss-cross heart.

She has had two open heart surgeries at Evelina Children's Hospital – the first one at just eight months old and her second one was completed just before she turned seven during Covid.

Belinda said: “Amaris is an IVF baby - she was the fourth try.

“So it was a little heart-breaking when we found out at 20 weeks pregnant.

“They weren't even sure what defect it was at that time but they were preparing us for the worst.

“They said that she would have to have an operation as soon born she didn't have her first one until eight months - so that was good.

“She's been a real trooper throughout – she our little heart hero.”

ECHO supports children and young people with heart conditions and their families, who’ve been treated by Evelina London and its network hospitals across the UK.

Amaris’ mum said that she has always shown bravery despite her condition even though she sometimes gets a little sad due to the physical restrictions she faces.

Belinda explained that while Amaris was not hugely affected by her condition since the operations, she still faces some daily challenges.

She added: “If she does too much physical activity, she kind of gets breathless and it hurts her chest.

“Her body is working double time to help the oxygen around the body.”

Amaris said: “Even though I get very tired when I do sporty things, I’m going to try my very best to push myself and I can do this half marathon.”

She started first started Girl Guiding through Rainbows when she was five and moved into Brownies as she got older – Amaris said that she loves collecting the badges for Brownies.

Belinda explained that while her family and friends had been donating, the fundraiser had also gone on social media and even “people who had never met her were inspired” and call her “such a special girl”.

Amaris initially set her fundraising target as £150 but she has smashed this targeted is currently close to £780 - she says she would really love to raise as much money as possible.

Amaris explained that because of the cold weather she has been struggling a little with the rides and becomes quite tired, but she was eager to push on and was “proud” to be doing the half marathon.

She just has a few more circuits to complete before her half marathon is complete – Amaris’ progress can be tracked and donations can be made via her GoFundMe page (Click here).