By Andy Hirst
Saturday is set to be one of the biggest one-day fundraising events Huddersfield has ever seen.
For 440 sponsored walkers will raise a staggering £120,000 to send a young Holmfirth girl to the USA for vital cancer treatment. This will send the total soaring well past the £200,000 mark towards the cost of the treatment for Eden Smith which will be around £300,000.
The army of volunteers will be doing a 22-mile circular sponsored walk from Holmfirth to the John Smith’s Stadium – that’s 11 miles there and 11 miles back – so people may be wondering who all these intrepid walkers are when they see them on Saturday.
They are doing it for six-year-old Eden who lives in Holmfirth with mum Jen, dad Lee and nine-year-old sister Tia.
Lee, who will be doing the seven-hour walk on Saturday, said: “The response is just so amazing it’s mind-blowing and really humbling that all these wonderful people have rallied to support us. I’d just like to thank each and every one of them.”
Eden was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma in April 2021, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer that has a 40% to 50% chance of long-term survival at diagnosis and affects fewer than 100 children in the UK every year. Scans and tests showed the cancer was located in seven places around Eden’s body.
She has been in Leeds General Infirmary for the last 35 days undergoing intensive chemotherapy.
The hope is that this will kill off anything left of the tumour and be followed by radiotherapy and finally immunotherapy to complete all her frontline treatment.
Only then will Eden be able to travel to the USA – and the earliest she’d probably be able to go would be this summer. To prevent the cancer returning Eden will need Bivalent Vaccine treatment which is now only available in New York.
So many people have stepped forward to take part in the sponsored walk they are in 81 teams and have been split into three groups with the first group setting off from Scholes Cricket Club above Holmfirth at around 8am and the last one about 9am.
The route is called The Gardens of Eden Tour and so takes in Huddersfield’s parks including Meltham Pleasure Gardens, Beaumont Park and Greenhead Park to the John Smith’s Stadium and then back to Scholes via Somerset Road Park and Honley Park.
One hardy fundraiser, dad-of-two Marc Townsend from Brockholes, is doing the route three times in 24 hours to take it beyond double marathon distance – once on foot with wife Rebecca and a group of friends and he will then run it and cycle it.
He said: “As a person, friend and father, I cannot imagine the physical and emotional toll this is having on not only a six-year-old girl, who should be worrying about her dolls and playing in the garden, but the pain that her parents are going through each and every 24 hours.” Read more about Marc’s challenge HERE.
* Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting. Copyright Andy Hirst.