Fundraiser Steven Willis is about to reach his goal of running 1,000 miles in a year for Down’s Syndrome Oxford (DSO), inspired by the courage of nephew, Lucas Randall, 7. Lucas benefits from support of DSO and is also undergoing extensive chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.
Steven, 32, will complete his challenge at the Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday, October 11, having started it at the same event in 2014.
Steven said: “Lucas has been my motivation: he always lights up the room laughing, talking about football and just generally being awesome. I’ve also been motivated by the people around me who have supported me unconditionally. My year has been fantastic but hard. I’ve gone from typically running 20 miles a month to around a 100 miles. My body hurts most days but I call it a healthy pain.
I’ve picked up a few injuries and have worried about failure but I’ve managed to keep going!”
Steven has travelled around the UK to take part in races, including three marathons in just a month.
He says that completing the London Marathon and meeting Roger Bannister were particular highlights, as well as getting a hug from Lucas after his first race in Oxford a year ago.
Eighteen months on from Lucas’ diagnosis of leukaemia, his mother Shelley Eldridge says that, after some really low points, his health is improving.
She said: “Lucas is getting stronger every day, with chemotherapy now only every four weeks. He has been our little star, not complaining once about the treatment and he is so happy his hair has grown back – he points to his hair and says ‘smart boy’!”
Shelley added: “Steven has done so well. He has trained non-stop and ran every race he could possibly do. We are really proud that Steven has taken time out from his own family to achieve this and to raise money for DSO.”
Lucas’ dad Paul Randall will run with Steven in Oxford, alongside others from Hastings Runners Club and DSO. Shelley and Lucas will be waiting for them at the finish line.
One of the key services that DSO provides is its weekly ‘early development groups’, which build up the communication skills of young children with Down’s syndrome before they attend school. DSO also offers lectures, seminars, workshops, social clubs and activities, and platforms for resource-sharing.
He can be sponsored at www.justgiving.com/steven-willis1