A Dad will take on the world’s biggest half marathon in memory of his younger sister who tragically passed away less than one month ago.
Paul Roddy, from Washington, was left devastated when he lost his sister Katie at the young age of 31.
Katie was born with spina bifida and had gone through 100 operations in her short life. She had countless procedures on her legs, kidneys, spine, brain and also spent time in a full body cast.
Despite all of this, Katie took her condition in her stride and always had a positive outlook towards life.
Tragically, earlier this year she was told she had an untreatable tumour on her pulmonary artery.
She was left bed-bound due to her condition but maintained her positivity while she spent time in St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland.
Paul and his family say that the hospice granted them precious time with Katie that they would not have received if she was not under their care and wanted to do something to support them following her passing.
Paul longed to take up running again following surgery in May 2017 to recover from an accident but the desire to raise funds for St Benedict’s Hospice was the motivation he needed to start training again.
He entered the Simplyhealth Great North Run, which takes place on Sunday 10 September.
He has already surpassed his £300 target and hopes to raise awareness about the amazing work that hospice staff do for patients and their families.
Paul, 36, said: “Dealing with Katie’s passing has been incredibly tough. I don’t think anyone expects to go to a 31-year-old’s funeral.
“The service was just what she would have wanted, she had asked for everyone to dress up in colour and they couldn’t get the doors closed at because of all of the people.
“Katie would have chuckled at all the attention. We knew how poorly she was but, nonetheless, her death was still such a big thing, it made me realise what a huge personality was now gone from our lives.
“Katie only passed away in August this year, she was born with spina bifida and had gone through over 100 operations
“As always she treated this news with a shrug and a smile and carried on doing what she did best: making people laugh and caring for those around her.
“She was always so grateful to the Freeman hospital in Newcastle, the RVI and Sunderland hospital staff for their support and was so thankful of the care she received at St Benedict’s Hospice too.
“She was like the wildest of wild-flowers. I’ve found that running has helped me to clear my head.
“I’ve been going off on the trails around the River Wear to help me get things into perspective. It’s a great place to shut off from the world and just run.
“I was incredibly happy to get to spend that time with her as were my wife and two daughters.
“It meant so much to us all. I couldn’t put a price on getting to spend the time I did with her. Thanks to the hospice she was able to spend her last weeks in comfort with her wife, Laura and her friends and family by her side and we wanted to do something to repay them.”
Paul will join 57,000 others for the Simplyhealth Great North Run, making their way from Newcastle to South Shields, passing over the iconic Tyne Bridge and experiencing spectator support like no other.
Paul says that Katie supported him in her final months with his fundraising and also gave him a playlist to keep him going during his training.
Paul, who works as a secondary school teacher, added: “After I had my accident I was left in a lot of pain and unable to run.
“Running had been a big part of my life for a number of years so I was pretty devastated.
“I’d given up on running again but the day after my surgery, Katie was moved into St Benedict’s and then soon after that I heard they had charity places for this year’s run.
“That gave me the boost I needed to get back into it.
“I’ve done the Great North Run a few times in the past and it’s always an emotional thing to do; hearing stories on the way round, the amazing support from the public and that last stretch, dropping down to the sea-front and along to the finish line gets me every time!
“St Benedict’s Hospice has been providing palliative care since 1984. Its new building is out of this world and the staff there are true heroes.
“The environment is so peaceful and every wish of the individual is catered for and respected.
“Katie loved the ducks outside of her room, cracking jokes with the staff and the Jacuzzi bath. We saw a massive improvement in her when she was first moved there and because of that we were able to spend many more days with her. I can’t thank them enough for that.”
Support John’s fundraising here.