A doctor is tackling 69 long-distance runs in every UK city over 69 weeks to help raise £69,000 for a four-year-old boy who lost his legs.
General practitioner Dee Clark, 48, was a novice runner before she decided to tackle the mammoth challenge.
And while she says she “isn’t the quickest” it’s all for a good cause – helping to raise money for little Luca Williams.
The youngster has already won the support of the likes of Formula One three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and football legend Maradona who are among a host of celebrities to have ‘raised a hand for Luca’.
Luca was struck down with meningococcal septicaemia when he was just three and in January 2012 had his legs amputated, also losing huge amounts of tissue, muscle and skin. His parents, Mo Syed and Sian Williams, are now fundraising for the cost of prosthetics – many of which aren’t available on the NHS.
And doctor Dee decided to get involved after reading about his story on Facebook.
The 48-year-old, from Stow Hill in Newport, said: “I saw some of my friends had raised hands for Luca on his Facebook page.”
Dee then decided to try something she had never tried before to raise money.
“I thought ‘I can’t run’ so I will run in every major city in the UK, there can’t be many of them – and then the Queen added three more,” she said.
“I have never run before so had to start from scratch, doing one minute on and one minute off and it took on a life of its own.”
After starting in September last year, Dee has done 37 of her scheduled 69 runs in different spots all over the UK so far. The runs have to be at least 10km.
This weekend Dee has made the 16-hour round trip to Aberdeen for run number 38 and later this year she will be taking on the Cardiff half marathon. All being well, she will eventually complete her challenge on December 15.
She said: “A lot of them are organised runs but lots of them are on the same day in a different city. That was a problem.”
Dee has mostly funded her challenge herself although she has had a helping hand from her mum, sister and brother-in-law who have driven her to some of her runs when she has been too tired.
Part of Dee’s training as a doctor saw her spend time in a referral centre for meningitis cases and she has worked with a disabled wheelchair basketball team.
“What I have seen is people achieving amazing things despite spinal cord injuries and loss of limbs and wanted Luca to be able to do the same thing,” she said.
Her gesture hasn’t gone unappreciated – and has met Luca and his family.
She added Luca had the uncanny knack of being able to inspire people.
You can help Dee reach her fundraising target by visiting her Just Giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/DeeClark
You can also read Dee’s blog of her challenge at http://thetenktourfortwolegsforluca.wordpress.com
“He’s an entirely normal young child,” Dee said.
“You read such a lot about him but he’s a normal toddler. He’s quite shy at first and then warms to you over time. He’s beautiful, positive and amazing.”
The quickest 10K she has done so far is 62 minutes and her aim by the end of the challenge is to run under an hour.
But despite running dozens of races, Dee admits she’s still not the most willing runner.
She said: “To be honest I really can’t make myself really like it.”