Gillian Clason - why I do it

28 August 2012
Gillian cycled London to Paris to raise money for Children with Cancer UK
In 2012, Gillian Clason not only ran the Virgin London Marathon and several half marathons, but also cycled the 300K from London to Paris.

Three years ago she couldn't run. Now she's totally hooked. Gillian tells us her story.
Why I do it
Gillian raises money in memory of HenryI have been raising money for Children with Cancer UK for approximately two years now, in memory of my friend's little boy, Henry. He was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of nine months and spent the majority of his short life in hospital.  

His courage and his parent's bravery inspired me to run my first marathon in 2009. While I was training for it, Henry was due to have a bone marrow transplant. But he couldn't have the surgery due to a cold.  

Sadly just a week after the marathon, Henry's parents were given the devastating news that the condition was terminal and Henry was given just two weeks to live. No parent should ever have to suffer the loss of a child, and the bravery and courage his family showed after his death inspired me to continue fundraising. Henry's mum chose the charity Children with Cancer UK. 

I haven't stopped since and I don't intend to until a cure is found for childhood cancer. No other families should have to suffer the loss of a child.

Running marathons hurts
My aches and pains go away, but the pain of losing a child will remain forever. Running marathons certainly hurts and gives blisters etc through the training. But this is absolutely nothing in comparison to what children like Henry go through with their treatment and the pain their families feel at their loss. My aches and pains go away, but the pain of losing a child will remain forever.  

In my first marathon, I "hit the wall" at 22 miles and momentarily thought I couldn't possibly go on. However, thinking of Henry's bravery, I gave myself a talking to and told myself if he could go through that gruelling treatment at such a young age, I could jolly well manage to drag myself across the finish line. 

It was the most emotional moment of my life crossing that finish line. Even though I have now done five marathons, I always feel a sense of achievement and find it very emotional. 

Henry is always with me when I run my races and I wear my Children with Cancer UK vest with absolute pride. It's my ambition to carry on as long as I can in order to hopefully contribute to a cure being found.
Fundraising can be a challenge
Gillian ran the London Marathon for Children with Cancer UKFundraising can be a challenge, especially when I constantly enter marathons, half marathons etc. But by coming up with different ideas, I am currently just £1,000 off hitting £20,000 in the last three years - over £16,000 of this has been for Children with Cancer UK.

I have organised a number of events to top up sponsorship including afternoon tea, a zumba party night which raised a massive £1,000 in one night, an auction night at a local restaurant and a half marathon (52 laps) around the local football pitch with a bucket collection. 

I find when you do so many things for charity, events are the best way of raising money as people are getting something for their money, at the same time as raising money for a fantastic cause. I'm currently in the process of organising a charity ball before the end of the year to hit the £20,000.    

Great support
Henry's parents have also been a great help to my fundraising. For the last two years they have organised a rugby tournament in Henry's name. This year, I was able to attend this event and help out. An amazing £1,500 was raised in one day.
Last year, having run the Edinburgh marathon twice, I ran the London and New York marathons for Children with Cancer UK. The support the charity gives before, during and after the events is absolutely fantastic. The buzz you feel at the London marathon when you pass their cheering points is absolutely phenomenal and really makes you see how much they appreciate each and every one of their fundraisers. 

This year, as well as the London marathon and several half marathons, I cycled from London to Paris which was an absolutely amazing experience and one that I already want to repeat. Three years ago I couldn't run and now I am totally hooked. I'm so glad I can put something I enjoy to good use, whilst raising money for such a great charity.

Making a difference
People tell me I'm an inspiration for what I do, but Henry and all the other children lost or fighting cancer are the true inspirations. People tell me I'm an inspiration for what I do, but Henry and all the other children lost or fighting cancer are the true inspirations.

It really does put life's everyday events into perspective and makes you realise that the little things we moan about really are nothing in comparison. 

I've become a total fitness freak and am just glad I can put this to some use and hopefully one day really make a difference.  Whilst it's me who gets myself out of bed in the middle of the night to go for a run and train for my marathons etc, I really couldn't do any of it without the support of all the people who have sponsored me and come along to my events. For that I am very grateful.  

I always a feel a sense of personal achievement when I cross the finish line or reach the Eiffel Tower at the end of three days cycling. However, there would be absolutely no point without the money going to the charity and I just pray that one day a cure is found. I would feel proud to have been a part of making that happen through the research the charity does with the money raised. So until then, I WILL NOT STOP!!!!"

Read more: London marathon | Cycle London to Paris | Our current research projects

(June 2012)

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