Welwyn Garden City mum puts on her running shoes in honour of charity

PUBLISHED: 13:46 26 September 2016 | UPDATED: 13:46 26 September 2016

Mick, Tracy and son Michael Gray after helping with Welwyn Garden City street collections.

Mick, Tracy and son Michael Gray after helping with Welwyn Garden City street collections.

Archant

A Welwyn Garden City mum is running her first ever 5K to give back to a charity who have helped her family create happy memories.

Mum-of-three, Tracey Gray, 49, is running in the 5K at the Willow 10K on October 2, at Hatfield House, as a way of thanking Welwyn-based charity Willow.

Tracey and Mick Gray have supported Willow since 2010, when the charity arranged a family trip to Butlins for their daughter Sarah when she was 22 years old.

All three of the couple’s children were diagnosed with the same condition, Spinocerebellar ataxia.

Their eldest daughter, Kayleigh, died at just 20 years old after battling the debilitating condition. They found out about Willow when their middle child, Sarah, was suffering with acute autonomic neuropathy, which meant her nervous system was shutting down.

The short stay at Butlins helped the family to forget the day-to-day stresses and provided them with the quality time they craved as a family.

Sarah’s health deteriorated and she passed away less than 12 months after her Special Day that Willow provided.

Tracey said: “The happy memories of the trip stayed with Sarah to the end and the photos still make us smile.”

In 2015 Willow arranged for Tracey’s 30 year-old son, Michael, to go to the live filming of Britain’s Got Talent at Wembley. Tracey added: “We had a fantastic time, Michael loves the TV show and he still talks about the time he met Simon Cowell.

“To have Special Days is so important, it’s about remembering you can be a family. You’re not mum or dad, a nurse or carer, you’re just a family, having fun.

“Pictures don’t lie, if you take photos of when your loved ones are ill and they’re struggling, you’re left with sad memories. But Willow helped us have happy pictures.

“This is my way of thanking Willow for all that they have done for our family.”

Places are still available on the 10K and 5K routes for this year’s Willow 10K, and there is also a 1K Junior Race for under-14s.

Every runner will be timed and receive a medal as they cross the finish line.

The free kids dash, children’s entertainment and runners’ village, which includes refreshment, face painting and much more, will provide entertainment for spectators who are supporting friends and family, plus Hatfield House Stable Yard is close by with a cafe and shops.

Sign up today at www.willowfoundation.org.uk/willow10K or call 01707 259777

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