TWO mums will be pulling on their running shoes for a half-marathon on Sunday after being inspired by a toddler from Basingstoke.
Tracey Lowther and Lorna Goodall, from Oakley, will be taking part in the Great North Run, on Tyneside, raising money for the battle against mitochondrial disease – a life-limiting genetic condition.
Their inspiration is 18-month-old Arthur Banks, a cheerful little child who has to cope with all the problems the disease brings.
Lorna, 48, a mother-of-two, who lives in Lyde Close, said: “We heard about Arthur through our friend Wendy Stretch, who knows the family through her work at a nursery. We thought we should raise money for the Lily Foundation which is helping the fight against this disease.”
Arthur was diagnosed at the age of seven months after an eagle-eyed consultant at Basingstoke hospital spotted some symptoms.
It took six weeks for experts at The Evelina Children’s Hospital, in London, to diagnose mitochondrial disease – an inherited disorder in which a youngster’s metabolism does not work properly, with serious consequences over time.
Arthur’s parents, Kitty and Marcus, of Cliddesden Road, Viables, describe this time as the “dark days”.
Kitty, 41, said: “Arthur was not really thriving and the consultant at the neo-natal unit, Nick Ward noticed he had very high lactic acid levels.”
Marcus, 43, added: “It was a pretty awful time. It was not something we had heard of and I would not wish it on anybody. It’s that uncertainty. I have spent a lot of time reading about it, and I still don’t understand it.”
The couple say Basingstoke hospital and Charlie’s Day Unit have been “fantastically supportive” but as is usually the case with the condition, the prognosis is “unclear”.
Kitty said: “If Arthur has a cold, we can be up there all the time. He cannot cope with extremes of temperature and gets very tired.”
Tests have shown that Arthur has developmental delays and lesions on his brain.
The couple, who also have sons Ned, six, and Billy, five, along with Tiernan, 17, from Marcus’ previous marriage, are very grateful to the two mums. Kitty said: “We had never met them and yet they are doing this. People are very kind.”
The mums are experienced runners. Tracey, 43, a mother-of-three, from Aviemore Drive, said: “We were going to run last year in the Great North Run but deferred for various reasons and we wanted to support something local.”
Anyone wishing to donate should the justgiving.com website and look for “Lorna, Tracey and Wendy’s page”. The runners will also be conducting a collection in aid of Sebastian’s Action Trust, at North Waltham.