I am so honoured to have been chosen to run the Virgin London Marathon 2019 for The Emily Ash Trust. We would love to give back to this charity who have been so supportive since our daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2018. We feel we have had far more support from this smaller charity then we have had from any of the more well known and larger charities.
Our beautiful and amazing daughter Olivia aged just 17 months was diagnosed in January 2018 with a brain tumour that has since rapidly stole most of her vision. Olivia has been on chemotherapy ever since and has also had nerve wracking surgery to try to relieve pressure from her optic nerves. We have had an extremely tough 13 months dealing with the effects of Olivia’s illness and it isn’t until you are in this position that you are able to fully appreciate how amazing charities like the Emily Ash Trust really are in helping families. More of our story can be found online by searching the hashtag at #KeepOliviaSmiling where my wife Lisa writes a blog about Olivia’s journey in order to raise awareness.
How the charity have helped us and others:
When Olivia was first diagnosed we felt so alone and we reached out to the charity who sent Olivia some very thoughtful gifts to put a smile on all of our faces. It really is those kind gestures that get you through very dark days. We have attended a few events over the year and we feel like we have been welcomed into a very supportive extended family. We have so far attended an amazing Winter Wonderland event, a Build a Bear Party (where Olivia was able to build a special sensory bear) and have also attended a lunch with some volunteers of The Emily Ash Trust and other families. We also managed to have a summer holiday in Hastings at one of their lodges at a holiday park.
The efforts that go into making events special for sick children are wonderful and we are able to spend time with friends we have made along the way all of whom are going through similar experiences.
The volunteers who help at the events are doing so out of the generosity of their hearts and a lot of them have experienced heartbreak themselves in the past. Their ultimate goal is to create smiles and make memories!
My Training - No alcohol!
I used to naturally be a runner but over the last few years my fitness levels have dropped as I haven’t had time to keep fit. It has been very difficult to get back into the training and commitment it takes to be able to run such long distances whilst working full time and dealing with Olivia’s gruelling treatment.
I have not touched a drop of alcohol since Christmas (and will not until the marathon is finished!) and I have overhauled my diet. I am also cycling to work in London three times a week to make sure I am ready for the challenge. I will also be running a half marathon with the charity next month in order to train for the big day and I am determined to do this to make Olivia proud of me and to show we are with her every step of the way.
We would like other families to benefit from the support we have had. I can one day explain more to Olivia about how there is much kindness in the world and I hope you can help me achieve my fundraising goal by sharing my page with your friends and family and donating whatever you can. No amount is too small as it will all add up!
The photo above shows me holding Olivia in hospital on Father’s Day opening a card from her whilst giving her a kiss.
Lots of love
Matt - Olivias Daddy
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