A Richmond runner will trek 1,250 miles across Europe for Ronald McDonald House Charities starting today.
Laura Maisey is ‘running home from Rome’ through Italy, Switzerland, France and England, collecting £3 for each mile for the charity close to her heart.
The 31-year-old decided she wanted to do something special for the independent charity after it housed her friend whose son was treated for brain cancer over the past year.
The historic property steward, who has already raised more than £2,300 for the charity, will embark on her journey on Monday, September 12.
Laura said: “When my friend Dave’s son [Adam] went into hospital in Manchester last November, he had to divide his life between his work in London and Manchester where Adam was being treated.
The house in Manchester — one of 14 in the UK — provided a home for Dave from November 2015 to July 2016.
With their help, Dave, who Laura knew through running, could eat good food and get a proper night sleep in the charity’s home, while spending as much time with his son as possible.
After months in the hospital, Adam is now home in London recovering — His hearing will never be the same again but he is cancer-free.
Laura already had close links to the charity as her parents were also housed by them when she had a hip surgery at the age of ten, but Dave’s experiences were a catalyst for her to take action.
After Adam was discharged, Laura came up with the idea to raise money and awareness for the charity.
As Laura is a keen runner, she decided to focus her challenge around her new hobby.
She said: “I usually use human power to get to work and home, either by running or riding a Boris bike.
“But this journey will obviously be different, as at the end of a day I won’t have my home to arrive to and have a dinner or a shower.
“I decided to run through these beautiful countries, because I knew that the external things will keep me going.
“I can explore if I am tired, I have the sight to gain power from.
“Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to cope with the monotony of running.
Her plan is even more admirable considering she only started exercising two years ago.
She said: “I previously had no sporting background either so running from Rome to London on my own is a very exciting challenge.”
Laura knows she will spend more time own her own during the journey than ever before.
She said: “I will be able to come closer to myself and I am not afraid of that.”
Besides the picturesque sights, the support of others also gives her strength to fulfil her goal.
“People’s interest in my initiative, that shines through their donations and their support on social media, is a huge motivation factor,” she said.
“It made me realise even more that I have to finish what I’ve started.”
Although Laura hasn’t set a schedule for the trip, she already knows that she won’t be back to her Richmond home for a long time.
She said: “I will be away for approximately two and a half months.
“I don’t want a schedule, if I have an injury, I will rest instead of having a back problem for life for example.
“Also I would like to meet a few friends and spend time with them during these months.”
— RunningHomeFromRome (@RHFR99) September 9, 2016
Laura’s employer has supported her idea, she said: “I told my managers what I am going to do, knowing that I might lose my job.
“But they let me take all my holiday and unpaid leave for the rest of the trip.”
The running-enthusiast doesn’t have a financial schedule either.
“I don’t want an extra pressure on myself by setting a goal. I am raising £3 per mile and finishing with an £10,000 would be amazing, but when you put a figure on it, you can’t deal with it mentally,” she said.
Mental and physical well-being are understandably extremely important for Laura and she knows exactly what her weak points might be during her journey.
“My biggest fear is injury, pain and that I might have to stop. This is why I will give myself time to recover from any possible physical injuries,” she admitted.
“The other fear I have is that I won’t be able to replenish my body day-to-day and I will have time to accustom myself to unknown situations, when I don’t know what to do, when I am not surrounded by English speakers.
“But I am also intrigued by the fact that I don’t know what will happen and I will have to figure out what works for me on the spot.”
Apart from the good cause, her south west London home is also a great motivation factor for Laura.
She said: “The fact that my destination is home helps a lot mentally, it will help me to keep running.
“Upon my arrival I will treat myself to a cup of tea.
“I will get home, put the kettle on and sit on my sofa enjoying the familiarity of my home and people speaking the same language as me.
“And I will enjoy putting down the backpack I am travelling with.”
Laura firmly believes the charity she is running for deserves more attention as their help is invaluable for those in need.
“You can never underestimate the value of a place to eat, work and sleep properly when you have a child in hospital, which is why I want to raise as much money as possible for Ronald McDonald House Charities,” she said.
To support Laura on her journey, you can donate at her JustGiving page here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Adam-Finch-RMCH
For more information about Ronald McDonald House Charities, visit: www.rmhc.org.uk