Ozzy, aged nine, is one of our youngest fundraisers. He ran his first official race a couple weeks ago in Brighton – a 2k trail for kids aged nine and over. His mum Jo explains why they both love running for Martlets and shares their future fundraising plans.
Ozzy has seen me running races for charity and asked if he could do one. He knows the money raised can help people who are ill, I said ‘Go for it!’ Ozzy is autistic and so am I, so we like to do things our own special way. We try not to tell Ozzy about events too far in advance or he tends to overthink things and can get anxious, so we just asked him a week before the race if he wanted to do it. His first question was ‘Can I raise money? If I can, yes, yes, I want to do it!’
Ozzy understands that Martlets is somewhere that cares for people like his grandad.
I lost my father last year to cancer. Ozzy was aware of a lot of what was going on with my dad’s illness. Dad was looked after by a local hospice up near where he lived, but Ozzy understands that Martlets helps people like his grandad. That’s why he wanted to run the race to fundraise.
I’ve lost other people to cancer too and most of them are local and have received care from Martlets. Ozzy and will continue to run in memory of the many people I’ve listed on my JustGiving page, but I’m particularly running for my ex-father-in-law, Kevin. He was very much like a second father to me, and our relationship continued even after I split up from his son. There’s a high chance there will be other people close to us who will also need Martlets’ support. I can’t just sit back and not help.
I was so proud, and in floods of tears, seeing Ozzy run in memory of his grandad. Before the race Ozzy said ‘Do you think Grandad can see me? Maybe he’s watching’.
Ozzy’s first official race, the Brighton 2k, was a big thing for him. He can get quite upset if he doesn’t win a race. I knew there would be other kids taking part who had had a lot more practice. I had explained to him that winning isn’t everything, because he’s asked me before why I got a medal for taking part in a run when I didn’t win the race.
He usually sees it as very black and white and thinks if you don’t win you shouldn’t get a medal. But when we were waiting before his race he said to me, ‘There are more important things than winning Mummy. It’s nice to be kind and to raise lots of money for people that are very sick.’ That was quite an insight for him because he isn’t always able to see the bigger picture like that. But he bounced off to start the run and decided that as he crossed the finish line he was going to flap his arms and fly! There’s a lovely photo of him arms outstretch ‘flying’ across the line.
Photo credit AWOL and European Space Agency
I’m just the average person who decided to take up running, but my dad was proud of me and would tell complete strangers ‘my girl’s doing a marathon so show your support!’. One of the last things I said to him was, ‘I will get you that medal’, which I did last year.
I’m not a fast runner and it doesn’t come naturally. However, once I’m out there it’s so cathartic and helps my mental health in a way that nothing else has.
When Dad became ill last year and had to have palliative care it was a shock. We thought he had years left to live. But he only survived another five weeks and then passed away. It gave me a huge insight into what hospices are and the amazing support they give. I hadn’t realised hospices are charities and rely on community support for most of their funding. It made me think about the many people close to us that we’ve lost to terminal illness. You never know who will be next or if you’re going to need that care as you get older. Martlets is my local hospice and I want to support them. I haven’t got the finances to donate, but I’ve got the legs and I can do the miles!
One of my other children wanted to run and I thought it was something we could do together, so I decided to take up running a few years ago. I had lost a lot of weight and I wanted to become healthier. Every time I go out the door within the first mile I’m questioning ‘what are you doing?!’ I’m often one of the slowest in the race. But it’s such a great feeling to cross the finish line; I think, ‘you did that!’ and it just gives me a boost.
Unfortunately, my son died 10 years ago and my mental health spiralled down. But now every time I go out on a run, I feel alive. I feel that running is a celebration of being alive and a way of honouring everybody I’ve lost.
Me and Ozzy are going to run in other events this year to fundraise and with all our races combined we will be running over 100 miles!
I’ve just done my first Ultra Marathon and I’m hoping that Ozzy and I will be able to do a 5k together before the end of the year. We’ll also do the Santa Dash nearer Christmas which will be fun. Before I started running, I asked my group of friends if they thought I would ever be able to run a marathon. They didn’t think I’d be able to, so that spurred me on to prove them wrong. Now I’ve run several marathons and it’s great to have more races planned. I’m looking forward to doing a run with Ozzy. He can’t wait to fly across the finish line again at his next race.
Photo credit AWOL and European Space Agency
If you’re inspired by Jo’s story, why not consider running for Martlets in 2023? Visit our fundraising page for details on how to take part in our fundraising activities. Whether you’re a runner, a group of thrill-seeking friends, or a family remembering your loved ones we have an action-packed event you’ll enjoy.