Three families. One marathon. One cause. Introducing TeamGOSH

8 Mar 2023, 4:27 p.m.

Photo of London Marathon participant Lavanya in running vest with her niece Esha. Both outside smiling, looking to camera

Have you ever wondered what inspires someone to run a marathon?

Between now and the 2023 TCS London Marathon, we’ll be introducing you to members of our mighty Charity of the Year team.

Below, we meet three very special runners to hear their stories.

Lavanya, Leah and Christian are part of a community of runners and volunteers helping GOSH give children with cancer the extraordinary care, expertise and facilities they need.

Lavanya – running for niece Esha

In 2021, Lavanya’s niece, Esha, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. She underwent two rounds of unsuccessful chemotherapy before having a bone marrow transplant.

Despite only a short window to find a suitable match, doctors at GOSH were able to find a donor.

Esha is now one year post bone marrow transplant and is back home.

Lavanya has decided to take on the TCS London Marathon to help take cancer care at GOSH to the next level.

“Everyone should support TeamGOSH because what they do for children and their families is absolutely incredible and they deserve our support,” Lavanya says. “Cancer care at GOSH holds a special place in our hearts.  To support them feels an absolute privilege and I hope together we can do amazing things for children in the future.”

In the video below, Lavanya shares more about her London Marathon story.

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Q&A with Lavanya

Q) What’s the best bit of fundraising advice you’ve been given?

"Start early and just keep going. You’ll be surprised how far you can go!"

Q) What’s your top training tip?

"Stay consistent – even if it’s going for a walk, doing short runs ... just get out, that’s the hardest bit!"

Q) How important is the cheer squad on race day?

"I think the cheer squad will be crucial on race day. I have heard they make the atmosphere electric and push everyone along."

Q) What are you most looking forward to on race day?

"I’m most looking forward to crossing that finish line – I'm looking forward to seeing all my friends and family at the end."

Leah – running in memory of Maggie-Mae

Leah's daughter, Maggie-Mae, passed away from acute myeloid leukaemia when she was 18 months old.

Fundraising has been a vital part of Leah's grief journey since then. It has enabled her to channel her feelings into something positive. So far, she's raised over £30,000 for GOSH Charity.

Leah's next challenge is to run the 2023 TCS London Marathon for GOSH Charity. Leah's running for the hospital, which, she says, saved Maggie's life at 11 days old, giving her a too short but incredibly precious 18 months to get to know her daughter.

“Raising money to support cancer care at GOSH is something I’m really passionate about,” Leah says. “Childhood cancer is common, yet there’s a shocking difference in the amount of funding going towards it compared to adults with cancer. There needs to be more research. GOSH have labs where that research is taking place and instantly going to the bedside, which is ground-breaking.

“Time is of the essence with cancer and GOSH’s work is life-changing. It does feel as though we are on the brink of kinder, more effective cancer treatments for children …"

Watch the video below to hear Leah share her and her daughter's story in her own words.

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Q&A with Leah

Q) What’s the best bit of fundraising advice you’ve been given?

“The way I’ve always seen my fundraising is that it’s for Maggie.

"If you can create a space for people to come together, you can help people have a lovely time and bring positive energy to what can be a difficult subject."

Q) And your top training tip?

“Think of the bigger picture for your running. For me, running is about time I can connect with Maggie, time I can dedicate to her. It’s really helped me during my grief, to spend time outside in nature. I really see it as a gift from Maggie to me.

“It’s been the same for my sister, who wasn’t a runner before Maggie died but who has kept up her running since doing a marathon with me.”

Q) How important is the cheer squad on race day?

“The Marathon is a really hard, mental challenge and it’s easy to feel swept up with people racing past you on the day.

“The huge crowd and the cheerers give you such an adrenaline boost.

“For me it is all about the connection the crowd gives you. Last time I ran I had ‘Maggie’s mum’ on my vest and people would shout out, ‘Come on Maggie’s mum, keep going, you can do it!’, which really made me emotional. I kept thinking, ‘this is why I’m doing it, this is what I’m running for’.

Christian – running for everyone he met during his time at GOSH

When Christian was 11 years old, GOSH treated him for a tumour in his jaw.

He remembers his first appointment well. It didn't feel like a 'sad place' – he felt safe and received enormous compassion from the staff who treated him. After six months of chemotherapy, Christian's tumour had gone.

Over 20 years later, the hospital remains a special place for him.

He will be running the TCS London Marathon for GOSH Charity as a mark of respect for those who gave him a "second chance". Thoughts of all those he met on his journey, especially those children who didn't make it, will keep him going for the 26.2 miles.

“I would encourage everyone and anyone to support TeamGOSH,” Christian says. “The work that they all do is truly exceptional. What I love most is the support they give throughout the whole journey. I am running the marathon on my own again, so having the extra support makes me feel grateful. The positivity really goes such a long way.”

Hear Christian talk more about his GOSH journey and the TCS London Marathon in the video below:

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Q&A with Christian

Q) What's the best bit of fundraising advice you've been given?

“Fundraising is actually a fun part of the marathon. The best advice I have been given is to host events – quizzes, football tournaments, those kinds of things. People love to support and have fun at the same time.

Q) What's your top training tip?

“One of my top training tips is to listen to your body. As cliche as it sounds, remember you have a training plan and lots of training to prepare you for the big day. Join a local running club. Book in to do some [running] events; this helps to give you extra motivation. Most importantly, have FUN!

Q) How important is the cheer squad on race day?

“The cheer points are fantastic! I remember running up to the cheer points and getting emotional every single time. Seeing the distinctive purple colours of GOSH makes me remember why I'm running the marathon. The people give you that extra energy.”

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