Entries for the Great North 10k Family Mile and Great North 10k Toddler Dash are open at: Greatrun.org/North10k
Award winning local charity The Children's Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) has been nominated as the chosen charity of the Great North 10k Family Events.
CHUF is a North East based charity that helps babies and small children from all over the UK who are born with or develop life threatening heart conditions and spend time in the Children's Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Participants of the brand new Great North 10k Family Mile and Great North 10k Toddler Dash on Sunday 3 July will be invited to consider this important local cause.
The Great North 10k Family Events are designed to give families the opportunity to enjoy getting active together and also offer a shorter running distance to children up to 15 years old.
The Children's Heart Unit is one of only two specialist centres in the UK that performs complex heart transplant and bridge to transplant surgeries and CHUF's mission is to provide lifelong support for its patients and their families.
One of the families who have signed up for the Great North 10k Family Mile in aid of CHUF is the Petrucci family from Sunderland, Tyne and Wear.
Sergio and Emma's young daughter Luna underwent lifesaving surgery when she was born with two holes in her heart.
Luna, 3, was forced to have a six and a half hour operation at the Freeman Hospital after being diagnosed with two severe congenial heart defects.
Dad Sergio, 40, described her condition as a “ticking time bomb” after they were told that Luna would not survive without having the immediate surgery.
After spending a week in hospital in intensive care, Sergio and Emma decided they wanted to give something back to the unit that had helped them through Luna's diagnosis and surgery.
Sergio said: “When Luna was born, we went from the euphoria of having our baby girl with us to devastation when we realized that she was so poorly.
“The doctors told us that if she did not have the operation, it would result in a fatality and nothing prepared us for that.
“Emma and I stayed in Scott House, a residential area for parents of children at the unit, which was funded by CHUF.
“I had donated to CHUF through a golfing day before and it was really moving for me to be there and benefit from the money I had given. I still get very emotional.”
“Luna is now doing great, she is like any other three year old. I have the team at the Children's Heart Unit to thank for that and we decided to throw ourselves into fundraising for them.”
Thankfully, Luna pulled through and is now fighting fit, and the family decided to support CHUF and raised a huge £47,000 for CHUF through their Red Sky Ball charity event.
They are now targeting the Great North 10k Family Mile to continue their fundraising plans for the unit before their next Red Sky Ball in 2017.
Sergio added: “The Children's Heart Unit is one of only two units in the country that carry out heart surgery of this complexity.
“The teams that look after children and support families like us are amazing. I could not help but hug the surgeon after Luna's operation.
“We decided we really want to do support the charity in any way we can to help families like us in the future.”
Chris Gray, CEO at CHUF, said: “It's absolutely thrilling to have been selected as the beneficiaries of this year's event.
“The Great Run series have become such a part of the fabric of North East life for so many, so we think the Great North 10k Family Events are a wonderful addition.
"The Petrucci family have been through a lot and have been such incredible supporters for CHUF so we know that their involvement in the Great North 10k Family Mile will mean so much to them to create lasting memories as a family.”
To support the Petrucci family or to get involved with next year's Red Sky Ball on March 3, visit justgiving.com/RedSkyBall.
The North East's biggest 10k running event is returning to Gateshead on Sunday 3 July and participants will cross the finish line inside the iconic Gateshead International Stadium.