Over the past 15 months, the team at CRY has been overwhelmed by the innovative and inspiring efforts of our families and supporters across the UK as they’ve embraced new, sometimes solo (and often, virtual) challenges and events to help maintain fundraising during these difficult times.
Nationwide initiatives, such as the incredibly popular 2.6 challenge (which took place last April in place of the postponed Virgin Money London Marathon) saw so many of our supporters taking part together – joined in spirit and determination, if not in person!
Other CRY fundraisers, such as the Great Cake Bake, 12 A Week Challenge and the 25 Million Metre Challenge, again encouraged families to become involved in joint initiatives – albeit events which could still be carried out and enjoyed from the comfort of their own home and neighbourhood.
And of course, our annual Heart of London Bridges Walk ‘went virtual’ last June and will now follow the same successful format this (its 15th) year, too.
It all goes to show that nothing will stop a CRY-fundraiser in their tracks!
Just one such example is Heather Reid, from Thorpe Salvin (a small village close to Rotherham, South Yorkshire). Heather’s daughter Alex (right), died in her sleep in 2012 from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. She was aged just 16. Since Alex’s death, Heather and her husband John – supported by friends, family, the local community as well as Alex’s school and sporting friends – have worked incredibly hard to raise awareness of young sudden cardiac death and the importance of screening and research.
The Memorial Fund established with CRY in Alex’s name has, to date, raised over £120,000, leading to the screening of more than 1,300 young people as well as a significant contribution to a major research project at St George’s Hospital.
But now, Heather has taken on her toughest challenge yet, running 624 miles in tribute to all the young people who will die suddenly from a ‘hidden’ heart condition every year in the UK.
And, as she found herself facing the final 120 miles, Heather decided she wanted to dedicate every mile to an individual who had lost their life too soon and too young…
This “final furlong” started on Monday 31st May and as such Heather has already run in memory of 24 young people, with many dedications also pledged for the coming weeks. A poignant montage is created every week, featuring the names and faces of 12 young people, which is shared across CRY’s social media.
Heather also pauses at a point along her route to think of that young person and their family. Running along the picturesque canal close to her home, she also stops to take a photo to send to the family who nominated their loved one.
So far, Heather has been in touch with 70 families who wanted to be a part of her challenge; they have all sent a photo and perhaps details of a special date (a birthday or anniversary, for example) on which they’d specifically like Heather to run for them.
But, as a 10-week challenge, comprising 12 miles a week, there’s still an opportunity for families to reach out to Heather to request “a mile in memory” and to be part of CRY’s weekly montage of memories.
Heather explains more here, in her own words;
“Over the past year – rain, snow or shine – I’ve been pounding the canal path and surrounding area (not something I love, or which comes particularly easy to me!), striving to clock up a total of 624 miles, in tribute to all the young people who will tragically die from a ‘hidden’ heart condition every year in the UK.
“It’s been a real challenge but I’m well on track to finish on Saturday August 7th at a local beauty spot which is very special to our family. We call it ‘Alex’s Bridge’ on the Chesterfield Canal. As such, the final mile will be dedicated to our lovely daughter, Alex.
“The penultimate mile will be run in memory of a local man, Lee Smith who died suddenly in 2013 aged 31, just a few weeks after becoming a father. I have since become close friends with Lee’s wife and am so thrilled that Sally and their little boy, Ollie, will be joining us too – along with many friends and family as I complete my fundraising challenge and help to raise further awareness for CRY.
“However, I feel now, more than ever, that this challenge is not just for me – I’m doing this for all of us. So, I took the decision to dedicate every one of my final miles to a young person who has died from a cardiac condition.
“In truth, I’d been doing that already… every time I go out for a run, it’s not just Alex who spurs me on. I really do think about all of you as I take every step. I have paused after every single mile and have reflected on yet another young life taken too young too soon. So far I have paused 528 times.
“CRY’s team has been so supportive and have been helping me to design the weekly photo montage, creating an ever-evolving tribute to anyone who expressed an interest in becoming a part of my challenge.
“Earlier this year – as the snow was falling! – I was even featured on our local BBC TV news and several newspapers too, helping to raise awareness of our cause, which as we all know can be just as important as raising funds. I’m hoping to generate lots more media attention as I complete my 624 miles in August – we’ve even had one local news presenter (commitments permitting), who’s followed our ‘story’ for many years, promising to run the final mile with me!
“So, if you’d like to dedicate a ‘mile in memory’, please just send me a PM via facebook or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo and any other details you’d like to share.
“I usually run each mile in the order in which I receive your messages – but please do let me know if there’s a special or meaningful date between now and August 7th that you’d like me to dedicate your mile to and I will do my best.
“I’ve already had some lovely exchanges and really touching messages from families who’ve asked me to run for their loved one.
“It always reminds me – as if we ever need reminding – that we’re all in this together and doing our little bit, in our own way to support CRY and to make sure that other families won’t have to endure the same grief as we have.
“So, do get in touch if you’d if you’d like to find out more – I’d love to hear from you.”
With warm wishes, Heather x