A Horsham woman is set to take part in the ‘toughest race on earth’ in memory of her dad with whom she had ‘an amazing bond.’
Flight attendant Gemma Morris has signed up for a 156-mile six-day run across the Sahara Desert - but that’s not all.
She is also running in the London Marathon later this month.
Gemma, 35, is taking part in the mammoth feats to raise money for the Anthony Nolan blood cancer charity. It was blood cancer - mantle cell lymphoma - that claimed the life of her beloved dad after he was diagnosed with the disease in 2001.
Now Gemma wants to help others with the condition. “If I can help even just a little bit, it’s all worth it,” she said.
Gemma’s dad underwent several rounds of chemotherapy but was told that his only hope of a cure would be a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.
The Anthony Nolan charity scoured its stem cell register for a match, but Gemma’s dad died before a transplant was able to take place.
Gemma said: “My dad never had the opportunity to have a transplant, but I know that Anthony Nolan tried to find a match for him. That’s why I’m running the London Marathon for them this year, so more people are able have that chance.
“My dad and I just had an amazing bond. I was distraught when we lost him. That’s why I run in his memory, it’s nice to do this in his legacy. I like to think he can see everything I’ve been doing, although he’d probably be looking down going ‘You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy.’
Gemma started running for the first time three years ago and has since completed the London Marathon twice, the New York Marathon and the Chicago Marathon, which she ran on her dad’s birthday last year.
Gemma has raised an incredible £16,000 for Anthony Nolan since she started fundraising.
She said: “I just think that if I can help even just a little bit, it’s all worth it. If I’m able to fund someone to join the register, who then goes on to donate and save someone’s life, that would be absolutely fantastic.”
She now plans on completing all the world major marathons by 2021. However, she’s not content with just running 26.2 miles - she has signed up to do the Marathon Des Sables next year, a six-day, 156-mile, self-sufficient run across the Sahara Desert. “It’s supposed to be the toughest race on earth.”
Anthony Nolan finds and matches donors, of the correct tissue types, with patients with blood cancers and disorders who need lifesaving stem cell transplants, giving them a second chance of life.
The charity also carries out pioneering research to increase the success of stem cell transplants and supports patients through their transplant journeys.
Charity spokeswoman Kirsty Mooney said: “We are delighted that Gemma is lacing up her trainers and running the London Marathon for us this year. With every mile completed Team AN will be providing hope.
“The funds they raise will enable us to recruit potential stem cell donors to the Anthony Nolan register – any one of whom could give a second chance of life for someone with blood cancer.”
To sponsor Gemma see www.justgiving.com/Gemma-Morris22
To find out more about Anthony Nolan, or to take part in your own challenge event, visit www.anthonynolan.org/events