Father runs a half marathon a week for a year to say thank you for daughter’s lifesaving care

A father from Bristol is running 52 half marathons in 52 weeks, to raise funds for the hospital that saved his baby daughter’s life.

Bob Smith, 31, will cover almost 700 miles in his challenge, in aid of The Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity.

In November 2015 Bob’s four-week-old daughter Autumn was rushed to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Bristol Children’s Hospital with a life-threatening heart condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT). She was not responding to treatment and in danger of heart failure.

For 48 hours, Bob and his partner Katie waited anxiously as doctors placed Autumn under sedation, lowering her body temperature to 32 degrees and ventilating her through a tube to take the pressure off her heart.

After further intravenous medication, Autumn was gradually brought off ventilation. She was finally allowed home five days later, after time recovering on the High Dependency Unit.

Autumn during treatment

While Autumn will require further treatment to manage her condition, she is now a happy and healthy four-month-old baby. To thank the doctors and nurses that saved Autumn’s life, Bob decided to support The Grand Appeal with a year of fundraising!

He has challenged himself to run 52 half marathons in 52 weeks to raise £8,000 – the amount Autumn’s treatment is estimated to have cost. Each half marathon will comprise of a route he has mapped out himself or an organised race event.

Bob, a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Bath, completed his first half of 2016 on 3 January. His epic challenge will see him cover almost 700 miles in total, taking in routes and races across Wales, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and Edinburgh.

Bob said, “I can’t describe the gratitude and admiration I have for every person that Katie and I encountered at Bristol Children’s Hospital. We were overwhelmed by the care and expertise of every member of staff. They cared for Katie and I with the same compassion as they did Autumn and I was completely humbled by the whole experience.

“I thought about ways to pay back the care that we received, and am aiming to raise the cost of Autumn’s treatment. I wanted to do something compelling that would encourage people to get involved, but also something that would be a massive challenge to myself.”

“January was hard physically, as I got used to running that distance on a regular basis. I think the hardest part mentally will be when the novelty begins to wear off, but lots of friends have offered to run with me to keep me company and help me stay motivated.”

Amber Janney, events fundraiser, The Grand Appeal, said, “We are so grateful to Bob for taking on this incredible challenge to support us this year!. Running 13.1 miles every week is no mean feat, and he has made a fantastic start to 2016, with ten half marathons already completed.

“Bristol Children’s Hospital provides lifesaving treatment for sick children from across the south west region, including Bath, making this race particularly meaningful for us and for Bob, who works for the University of Bath. We hope lots of others will get behind his challenge this year and join us in cheering him across the finish line on 13 March.”

Bob with Autumn during treatment

To support Bob’s challenge visit www.justgiving.com/bobsm100 

To find out more about The Grand Appeal, visit www.grandappeal.org.uk

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