How the cheetah learnt to run

Twelve-year-old Ezara-Mai comes to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for treatment for juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare condition that affects her muscles and skin. She is also an ambassador for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, helping to increase awareness of GOSH and the charity and fundraising to help other patients like her.

Ezara-Mai and her classmates recently wrote some stories inspired by the ward names at the hospital. Many of GOSH’s wards are named after animals, and in the first of seven stories we’re sharing with you, Zara tells us how the cheetah learnt to run!

In the days when the world was new, the Cheetah was one of the slowest animals, second only to the sloth. This is the story of how the cheetah became really fast.

It was a typical day in the Sahara Desert – hot, sandy and blustery. The cheetah climbed out of his home and plodded off to find some food. On his way to his favourite swamp, he saw a number of strange things. The normally chatty and energetic monkeys were sitting in silence, hugging themselves. The leopards were standing, frozen in mid-run. The cheetah, thanks to his tiny brain, just shrugged and plodded on. He went past silent parrots, and a sloth who said, "watch out for the humongous big cat!" – but the cheetah just plodded on. After five minutes, the cheetah reached his destination of the swamp. He drank some water and collected some food to share with his family. Then he turned around to go home. He went back past the sloth, back past the parrots, the leopards and the now fully chatty and energetic monkeys. He went into his house to be greeted by a horde of stampeding. It seemed that his family had gone completely crazy! He sharply called them to order. The stampeding subsided, but there was still an air of uncertainty around. The cheetah shared out the food and the family drifted peacefully off to sleep.

That night the cheetah had a dream. He was in his swamp and a hungry lion was looking down at him, it's mouth watering. The cheetah tried to climb out but soon a whole pride of lions were staring hungrily at him. He cried out in help and the pride lunged.

The Cheetah woke with a jolt, sweating all over. "Oh well cheetah! It's nothing to worry about! Just a bad dream. Just a very bad dream. It's gone now." And he drifted off to sleep, where he enjoyed a very lovely dream about watermelons.

The next morning it was raining – huge bucket loads tipping down. The cheetah still went to the swamp as normal to collect food. He went past the monkeys, the leopards, the parrots and the talkative (for a sloth) sloth. He got to the swamp and got in. Ah, what a horrible day for food-collecting duty. But he collected the food just the same. On his way back (100 or so yards from the swamp) he passed a bush. A very large bush. A wriggling bush. A wriggling bush? A WRIGGLING bush? The Cheetah took one look and just plodded on.

After about 50 yards, a lion jumped out. The cheetah ran. It ran as it had never run before. It reached speeds of 65 miles per hour. The lion was outrun easily. And since that cheetah ran from that lion, cheetahs have always run at the slightest noise, for fear of particularly fearsome lions.

Ezara-Mai is printing out the stories and collecting them into a book, which she will offer locally for a suggested donation to the charity. If you’re interested in raising money to help seriously ill children at GOSH, take a look at some of our fundraising ideas.