More than 350 people are bracing the cold, wet January to raise funds for 2 Wish Upon A Star in memory of former teacher Liz Kirwan.
The fund-raising initiative Lace Up For Liz will mark what would have been Liz’ 40th birthday this month and each participant will run or walk 40k during January to raise funds for 2 Wish Upon A Star in Liz’s memory.
Liz, a keen runner, was just 34 when she collapsed and died suddenly just a year after losing her son Thomas at two months old.
Her parents Julian and Sian Ashton organised a series of fundraising events following the deaths of their daughter and grandson so they could help support other families. They raised £9,000 for two family bereavement rooms at Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.
The funds from Lace Up For Liz will also help 2 Wish Upon A Star after one of its toughest years and the charity’s founder Rhian Mannings has also taken up the challenge.
Former journalist Liz, from Bridgend, was an exceptionally talented runner. She used to be vice-captain of Les Croupiers running club in Cardiff, regularly completing 5km runs in less than 20 minutes. She also completed marathons in Snowdon and Berlin in just over three-and-a-half hours.
Sian Jones, one of the organisers of the fundraising said: “Those of us who have arranged Lace Up for Liz are friends of Liz from school. We set up Team Liz the year Liz passed away when a group of us took part in the Cardiff half marathon. Some of the group were regular runners and others had never run before that event.
“Since then, a few of us continue to take part in events as “Team Liz”, to raise money for 2 Wish and other charities and in memory of Liz. We wanted to do something to mark Liz’s 40th birthday and thought about a range of running and other fitness options before deciding on a virtual event to walk or run 40k in January, the month of Liz’s 40th. We hoped to get 50 people signed up and are amazed and delighted that current registrations stand at 343.”
Ria Evans, one of Liz’s oldest friends, added: “She was absolutely one of my favourite people ever, and I still miss her every day. I’d like to think she’d have absolutely loved this challenge, and the overwhelming support we’ve had. That is after she’d recovered from the shock that I’d started running!”
2 Wish Upon A Star was set up by Rhian after she and her husband Paul experienced the heartache of losing their baby son George. They left the hospital heartbroken, confused and bewildered. Five days later, Paul took his own life.
Rhian believes no family should go through what she went through, and the charity works with every health board in Wales and is supported by every police force. There are now immediate support pathways in place in every Emergency Unit and Critical Care Unit. It also works with every coroner, mortuary, organ donation team and Wales Air Ambulance to make sure no family is missed.
This support includes memory boxes, counselling and an immediate support pathway working with health boards and police forces in Wales. The causes of death include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, accidents, illness and young suicides. More than 520 families have received support since 2015.
To take part in the 40k challenge, go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lace-up-for-liz-registration-130321612451 to register or contact [email protected]. Kids can also take part in a 20k challenge so the whole family can get involved. It costs £15 for adults and £7.50 for children and all proceeds go to 2 Wish Upon A Star.