A 22-year old woman from Dinas Powys is running this year’s Cardiff 10K in aid of Welsh charity, Kidney Wales after completing an epic 250-mile charity run across Iceland.
Charlotte Bloxham, a trainee police officer, found out her co-worker, Lawrence Weekley was suffering with polycystic kidney disease when she joined Cardiff-based Covert Investigations & Surveillance Ltd. For months she watched Lawrence slowly deteriorate as his illness began to place a massive strain on his personal and professional life.
Polycystic kidney disease is the world’s most common inherited kidney condition and Lawrence has a family history of the disease. If a person has polycystic kidney disease, there is a 50% chance that the disease will be passed onto their children. In his mid-30s Lawrence was advised by his doctor to undergo the necessary tests to learn if he too would suffer from the condition. After a number of tests Lawrence received the devastating news that he had developed the disease, which would in time lead to chronic kidney failure.
After managing the illness for a number of years, in November 2015 Lawrence was informed he would need dialysis treatment at home three to four times a week, while the search for an organ donor began. After five nonstop months of being in and out of the office, the illness was not only taking a toll on his working life, but also his family life at home.
Seeing his pain first-hand on a day-to-day basis, and the effects his illness was having on him, in early 2016, Charlotte decided to do something incredible. She vowed to take on a 250-mile run across the extreme volcanic landscape of Iceland, in order to raise funds for the Kidney Wales Foundation, the charity that would support Lawrence through his illness.
On April 17th 2016, Charlotte and a group of close friends Abby Flemming, Rhys Jenkins, Scott Jenkins and Lawrence Cronk set off to Glacial Lagoon in Jökulsárlón to begin the mammoth marathon adventure that would see them race across the south coast of Iceland in support of their individual charities.
Each day the runners would rise at 8am and run until 7.30pm in the evening, catching their breath for water and food along the mountainous, glacial terrain. Come evening the group would stay in local campsites in their campervan, or pull up on the side of the road to get a night’s rest.
On the fourth morning of their quest, Charlotte and her team were waking up to their last day of running, when Charlotte was delivered the news that made the whole trip worthwhile. Lawrence had received a phone call in the middle of the night that an organ was available and he would receive a transplant in the morning.
After five days of strenuous running, on April 22nd the team finished their run in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, where they were greeted by supportive cheering from family and friends. Charlotte raised a staggering £1,800 for Kidney, which will go directly towards helping people like Lawrence who are affected by the hardships of kidney disease.
Lawrence’s operation was a success and since the procedure, he has been recovering well. Doctors are confident that he no longer requires dialysis treatment and that he is able to rely solely on his newly transplanted kidney. Once Lawrence is fully recovered, he will undergo a further operation to remove his old kidneys.
Fresh from the success of her Iceland adventure, Charlotte is pulling on her trainers once again and participating in this year’s Cardiff 10K road race, where she will be fundraising for Kidney Wales once more, in order to return the help and support Lawrence received throughout his ordeal. Charlotte will run alongside Lawrence’s son, Jac Weekley, 20, who has yet to discover if he will suffer from the same disease that has afflicted both his father and grandfather.
Charlotte said: “I can’t wait to race in my very first Cardiff 10K this September. Getting the message that Lawrence was on his way for a transplant as we reached our last day of the challenge in Iceland was incredible. It made all the pain worthwhile and spurred me on to reach the finish line.
“Seeing Lawrence go through so much at the same age as my dad was heart-breaking, and I wanted to do everything I could to help him. I can’t wait to race again later this year and raise even more money for Kidney Wales.”
Roy Thomas, Chief Executive of Kidney Wales said: “I applaud Charlotte and her group for the challenge they took on in Iceland and here at Kidney Wales we are truly grateful for the support they have given us.
“All the monies raised through fundraising activities enables us to provide the best care and support possible for families affected by kidney disease in Wales, and I would like to thank everyone raising money in this year’s Cardiff 10K. Good luck to all.”
Registration for the 2016 Cardiff 10K event is now open and people of all ages and abilities are being encouraged to get involved with the iconic city centre road race.
To find out more about the event, to sign up and to help raise money and awareness for Kidney Wales, please visit the Cardiff 10K website: www.cardiff10K.cymru or call (029) 2034 3951.