A Woodbridge man whose father died of a brain tumour has launched a 48-hour challenge to mark Father’s Day this year.
Tom Wake was left heartbroken when, in March this year, he lost his dad Jonathan just three months after a devastating diagnosis.
But the 26-year-old has joined forces with his little brother Danny, 15, and 40 friends to raise £10,000 to fund a cure while running the equivalent of two marathons over a 48-hour period.
He said: “Dad was a truly special man and losing him so quickly after he first became ill has been completely heart-wrenching.
“It was such a shock because Dad didn’t really talk about what was going on or his prognosis. He just used to joke about it and always led me to believe that he was going to beat the brain tumour. I didn’t have any idea that just 20% of those diagnosed with brain tumours survive five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers.”
Jonathan’s funeral took place just two weeks before lockdown.
“I wanted to do something positive to help make a difference for people diagnosed with brain tumours in the future, but also to help my own physical and mental health,” said Tom. “As Dad was so much into running himself – at one time he was in the top five runners in England and ran many marathons and half-marathons – I thought that a marathon challenge was appropriate.”
The challenge – named the 4.4.48 challenge – involves running four miles every four hours over a 48-hour period starting at 8pm on Friday 19 June with the last run scheduled at 4pm on Sunday 21 June.
Tom said: “I came up with the idea when trying to deal with Dad’s death during lockdown. I couldn’t see my family and couldn’t grieve properly. Since then, the whole thing has snowballed and we now have more than 300 participating – many as teams doing specific legs of the challenge, but at least 40 friends and family will be completing the whole 48-hour challenge themselves in its entirety.
“It’s a real tribute to Dad that so many people from far-and-wide, including family and friends in Australia, United States, Spain and Scotland, as well as across England, are wanting to help raise funds for the charity Brain Tumour Research to find more effective treatments and ultimately a cure.
“We set ourselves a target to raise £10,000 for Brain Tumour Research and have already raised over £8,000 which is amazing – the more we can raise the better as research into brain tumours is terribly underfunded.”
The charity is holding its Wear A Hat Day with Flowers event on Friday 19 June and runners will all wear a hat with flowers to use this opportunity to raise awareness.
Brain Tumour Research spokesman Hugh Adams said: “It’s impossible not to be touched by Jonathan’s tragic story and, sadly, he is not alone – some 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year and, despite the fact they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, historically, just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
“Like many organisations the coronavirus pandemic has meant a massive financial hit for us, particularly with the cancellation and/or postponement of challenges like the London Marathon, and we are anticipating a loss of 50% of income in the following three months. We would like to thank all our supporters who are helping us through these difficult times.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for a national annual spend of £35 million in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
To donate in memory of Jonathan Wake, go to www.gofundme.com/f/in-memory-of-jonathan-for-brain-tumour-research