A SHEFFIELD mum whose four-year-old son is being treated for a rare childhood cancer holds a ten hour charity fitness marathon next weekend to support the organisation that helped her family during their some of its hardest times.
Jenny Vernon, aged 35, is raising money for Amy’s Retreat by holding a ‘fitness bootcamp’ at Hillsborough Arena on Saturday, September 3.
The Sheffield-based charity organises holidays for children with cancer and their families, and Jenny discovered the importance of the breaks when her son, Sam, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of three.
She said: “Sam was diagnosed in February 2010 after waking up one night confused, foaming at the mouth and struggling to breathe. At first doctors thought it was a chest infection or croup, but after further investigations they found a tumour and he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
“It’s obviously a terrifying time when your child is diagnosed with such a serious illness, and we focussed all our energy on getting Sam through the treatment. I certainly wasn’t thinking about holidays, but the hospital told me about Amy’s Retreat, and before I knew it they had arranged for us to go to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest for a break. They plan everything around the child’s care plan and arranged the holiday during a one week break in an intense period of Sam’s treatment.
“Nothing was too much trouble for them and I can’t explain how much Sam, my husband Richard and I needed some time away as a family by this point. We had spent the majority of our time in hospital over the previous months, and it made the world of difference to us during a horrific time. Now I want to help them to help other people who find themselves in the same position.
“Sam is more than halfway through his two years of chemotherapy now and is due to finish his daily treatment in eight months. It has been a hard slog and the treatment has been incredibly gruelling for him, but through it all he has remained unfazed and has taken it in his stride.
“I am incredibly proud of him and the way that he has handled his illness.”
The ‘fitness bootcamp’ involve three teams of 30 people competing on a military style assault course and a fun course. Jenny, of Worrall Road, Wadsley, came up with the cidea after she started training with BEST Bootcamps five months ago. “I started doing the bootcamp with some friends, and love the outdoor element of the fitness sessions, even when it is pouring down!
“I have done three times a week ever since I started. My fitness levels have increased dramatically, I have toned up and the exercise has proved to be a great stress reliever.”
“I’ve never arranged anything like this before, but the combination of my belief in Amy’s Retreat and my love for the bootcamp sessions made this seem like the perfect way to offer my support.”
The event will be accompanied by fairground rides, a bouncy castle, fire engines, dancers, singers, face painting, an auction and, in the evening, a disco.
Jenny is looking for sponsors and participants. “You don’t have to be super fit to take part, just willing to have a go and enjoy yourself through the challenges.”