A TODDLER with a mystery terminal illness will join her parents for the final steps of the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run – which they are running to raise money for the charities that have supported the family.
Little Evie Appleyard, three, will join parents Christine and Mark for the final 100m of the 10k run on Sunday, May 28, which takes place in Manchester city centre.
The family, from Stockport, are determined to make the most of every moment with their daughter, who regularly suffers seizures and who was given months to live by doctors last year.
They will take part in Europe’s biggest 10k running event for Wish Upon A Star and The Charlie Cookson Foundation.
Mum Christine said: “We intend to run for different charities each year focusing on those that have made such a huge impact on ours and more importantly Evie's life.
“Ultimately we would like to set up a charity of our own in Evie's name once we get a diagnosis that allows us to focus our efforts.”
Explaining Evie’s illness, Christine said: “That is the million dollar question. Sadly we don't know the answer and may never find out.
“From birth Evie showed signs of developmental delay. She suffers from epilepsy and has been hospitalised nine times from severe seizures. The last of these left her in intensive care for two weeks in a coma.
“When she came round to everyone's surprise she had regressed to new born status and suffered severe brain shrinkage. She has no head control and low muscle tone and is severely visually impaired.
“Evie's condition is so severe she was given only a few months to live last April. Despite this she continues to defy the odds and amazes and inspires us every day.
“She is such a fighter and little by little we are seeing small improvements.
“We live day by day and cherish every single one of them.”
The Appleyards took part in the Great Manchester Run last year but their preparations were affected owing to Evie’s illness. In 2017, however, they are looking forward to the big day – and have an army of supporters joining them.
“Last year our training involved running around the grounds of the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital as Evie was really poorly,” said Christine. “Thankfully this year things are a little more stable, touch wood, so we are using the couch to 5k programme to help us.
“We haven't confirmed exactly who is running with us but a number of friends have indicated they will join us. It's looking likely we will have around 10-15 friends running as part of our team.”
With a half marathon also added to the day, the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run is famed for its carnival atmosphere and 2017 will be no different.
Christine added: “The atmosphere is always amazing. Come rain or shine. We run with pictures of Evie on our tops and she always gets lots of comments.
“Being joined by friends will make it extra special and we are hoping to finish the race with Evie which will be amazing not to mention very emotional!”
Christine and Mark have had the support of a number of charities who have rallied around the family throughout Evie’s life.
Christine said: “Last year we ran for Epilepsy Action and a local charity from Hazel Grove called Independent Options. This year we are running for Wish Upon a Star and The Charlie Cookson Foundation.
“Wish Upon a Star have taken us to Centre Parcs twice this year including their winter wonderland party. Charlie Cookson have granted us £3k to pay our mortgage and bills for three months allowing Mark to delay his return to work.
“We get respite care from Swanbourne Gardens and Francis House and Reubens Retreat.
“Jump have also joined us to take professional photographs which will be a priceless keepsake.
“We really want to give back to all the charities that have helped us. We would have been lost without them.”
To sign up for the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run 10K or half-marathon, visit greatrun.org/manchester