Rotherham friends Lauren Thirlwall and Heather Grayson are training for the first of an incredible ten half marathons in memory of Lauren’s ‘one of a kind’ sister Gemma.
Lauren who is assistant director of maths at Kirk Balk Academy, and Heather, a supply analyst at Asda’s head office, are taking on the epic #10forGem trial to raise money for Bluebell Wood.
To mark ten years this November since Gemma passed away following an accident at the age of 26, the two friends will run their first half marathon in Lincoln on 30 September. They then plan to do the Manchester Half Marathon on 14 October and another eight events up to August 2019.
The duo, who are hoping that friends and family members will join them for one or more of the runs, will be updating everyone on the challenge on social media with the hashtag #10forGem. They have decided to fundraise for South Yorkshire’s only children’s hospice because it had been Gemma’s dream to have her own family.
Lauren said: ““Gemma was truly one of a kind, and brought warmth and laughter to every room she entered. Because she never got the opportunity to have her own family, we wanted to support a place that offers such incredible support for families facing very difficult journeys. Losing my only sibling was heart-breaking for me, and I want to do anything I can to help those who are in the same position.
“We came up with the idea for the half marathons on a train back from Leeds after a day out. The idea is to run one for each year Gemma should have been here with us, as November will mark a decade since she passed away. We know it will be both mentally and physically tough for us, but we’re excited and up for it.
“We’ve been doing smaller runs of around 5-7k throughout the week and then longer ones at the weekend. We’re looking to run the Sheffield Half Marathon in April as a practice run as we know that’s notoriously hilly and quite challenging.
“We have fundraised for Bluebell Wood before. My Dad and I set up ‘Gemma’s Smile’ in 2009 and collectively raised £40,000 by February 2010. It was a huge effort from family, friends and Gemma’s former colleagues at Keepmoat, where our dad was the financial director at the time.
“Heather and I recently visited Bluebell Wood and were again blown away by the facilities and care. We thought it was lovely that it’s also Bluebell Wood’s ten-year anniversary this year, which ties in perfectly with our plans.
“Gemma was absolutely the best chapter of my life and I know every mile of pain I’m going to endure in her memory will be worth it. Ten years is a difficult milestone, but we’re determined to keep her smile shining through and support such an incredible hospice along the way.”
Anna Gott, Community Fundraiser, Bluebell Wood, said: “We wish Lauren and Heather every bit of luck for their amazing challenge. We’re honoured that they have chosen to fundraise for Bluebell Wood again in memory of Gemma. Every pound they raise will help us to offer even more support to families facing the toughest of times across our region and help them to create special memories, whether they have days, months or years left together.”
To sponsor Lauren and Heather on their #10forGem challenge please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/10forgem