This week I met a woman of true awesomeness for lunch (yes awesomeness is a word). I love meeting up with Leigh. I always come away with something random to research, a new book to read, a new run to try, a new restaurant to visit and usually a headache after drinking one too many long black coffees.
I think Leigh and I have similar approaches to our running. Yes, there is a competitive element which we both relish, but there is a release, a calm and an element of self development that comes with running, which we truly enjoy. I met Leigh through my local parkrun (Albert Melbourne parkrun) and she has been a great supporter to me as I set up Go Run. She was actually the first person to ever wear a Go Run running t-shirt! Over the past couple of years, I have watched her 5km times tumble, her friendship group grow and her running horizons expand, whilst also watching her go through a lot with the illness of her son, Gus.
Gus passed away at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne a week after last years 'Run for the Kids' event. Whilst at RCH, Gus spent time in several different wards, ICU for 3 months, Sugar Glider for 6 months and his final 2 months in Kelpie. He was a much loved patient and constantly astounded everyone with his good humour and resilience at every turn. Gus, Leigh and their family were exposed to many carers - doctors, nurses and just about every type of allied health worker. They cared for Gus as if he was their own child. They doted over him and appreciated every small milestone of his treatment as well as consistently showing generosity of spirit, selflessness and tenderness over many months. All of this helped Gus, Leigh and their family through the darkest parts of their hospital experience.
The 2016 'Run for the Kids' is now only a couple of months away and Leigh is on a mission to raise $20,000 for the Royal Children’s Hospital, because of the extraordinary care the staff provided to her son in 2014 and 2015. Under the banner of ‘Fly with Gus,’ the #flywithgus hashtag is now all over Facebook and their story is in the Herald Sun and on the Run for the Kids website. There are now 30 runners who have joined the #flywithgus team to run the 16km course and it looks as though this number is going to keep growing. Whilst a ‘Leigh on a roll’ is a force to be reckoned with, I think even she has been surprised with the generosity of her running friends and the wider running community. Over our lunch, the phrases “but they didn’t need to do that” or “and I barely know him/her” kept on cropping up as examples of generous runners who are now supporting the #flywithgus cause in one way or another.