Clare Luther from Sunbury on Thames has walked more than 300 kilometres to raise money for seriously ill children, becoming the first person in the country to complete all four challenges in WellChild’s Step Up Challenge.
The Step Up challenge is a series of four solo events set by some of the complex needs children that WellChild supports across the UK. The four events are Noah’s 5k Run, Louie’s 21k Week of Walking, Jessie’s 52k Cycle and Oliver’s 257k Challenge. You can take part in one, or as many as you wish, raising sponsorship money for WellChild’s work with seriously ill children and their families across the UK. Each event has its own medal designed by the child.
Clare has become the first person to complete all four of the Step Up challenges, receiving a specially designed medal for each one, taking her to 335 km tackled in total! Clare has four daughters including Lauren, 16, who has a serious kidney condition and hypermobility and Matilda, aged two, who was born prematurely and has developmental delay.
Clare is a Parent Ambassador for WellChild and is a member of the WellChild Family Tree peer to peer support group. She joined WellChild Family Tree in 2013 and finds it a great way to network with other families with children with serious medical conditions who offer help and support to one another.
Clare said: “We are fortunate, apart from an episode every now and again, Lauren is healthy but until you’ve had to care and worry every day about your child’s health I don’t think you’re fully aware of how much that puts on a person mentally and physically! It’s people like WellChild who give support to those who feel lost and helpless. They help us find the questions we want answered and give us the tools to ask them. WellChild helps support families in situations no parent should have to go through. It also gives us a forum to smile and find likeminded people.
“Without WellChild I wouldn’t have found light and friendly faces with similar situations to help me through one of the darkest days my family had to face and for that I will always be forever grateful.
Clare added: “Having a child in hospital or with a million different appointments to visit doctors and specialists is already a strain on families, from partners, to siblings and often extended family. When you then have to add travelling, families are often separated and sometimes for not just weeks but months.
“I did the Step Up challenges because I believe it’s a good way to highlight this, although some families travel even further than the full 335k I completed. On one of my walks I actually walked to one of Matilda’s hospital check ups with her nicu consultant, it took me three hours and was just four miles away. I don’t drive and so if I didn’t have local transport that in itself would be hard to get to every time she needed to visit. It also struck me this wasn’t our main hospital this was just an outpatients hospital. For our main hospital I would have to travel further and when Lauren was really ill she had to be transferred to another hospital again further away. I was lucky to have my parents’ support. They looked after Lauren’s sisters, I felt so guilty I couldn’t be there for them but Lauren needed me more. But it’s not just the travelling, being in hospital with your sick children is a world of isolation, a time you need the support of those closest to you, but they are far away.”
WellChild Head of Challenge Events Melanie Parker said: “Well done to Claire for becoming the first person to complete all four of the Step Up challenges designed by some of the young people WellChild supports. In these trying times when we are forecast to lose fully 60 per cent of the charity’s income through cancelled events and partnerships because of COVID-19 it is fantastic that Clare and people like her are taking part in these events to make sure the charity gets the funds it needs to carry on providing vital support to seriously ill children and their families all across the UK.’
The Step Up Challenge for WellChild is a great way to stay fit and help seriously ill children during the COVID pandemic, taking part at your own pace during daily exercise. To find out more and take part in one of the daily challenges yourself visit www.wellchild.org.uk/stepup The Step Up Challenges are solo, virtual challenges and we ask participants to adhere to government guidance on social distancing.