November 2018 marks the 10 year anniversary since we lost my big sister, Gemma, in a tragic accident in Rotherham Town centre whilst out celebrating her 26th birthday.
The months to follow were the most painful my Dad and I will ever experience, but we were determined to keep her memory alive by launching ‘Gemma’s Smile’ in 2009. Through the huge collective effort from family, friends and her colleagues across Keepmoat, we were able to raise £40,000 for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. Knowing we were able to come together to remember Gem, as well as support such a phenomenal charity in her honour, really helped us through the grief of losing such a massive part of our lives.
Now we’re a decade on, and we’d really love to achieve something equally as special all in support of Bluebell Wood. Having recently visited the hospice first hand and seeing the work they carry out around the clock to care for young adults and children with life-shortening and life-threatening conditions, as well as their families, has spurred us on even more to raise as much sponsorship and awareness as possible to allow them to continue such inspirational work. Being recently engaged, one of Gemma’s biggest dreams was to have a family of her own so a charity that supports this kind of work seemed fitting.
Having toyed with various ideas, our first venture is the #10forGem. To tie in with Bluebell’s #GetActive campaign, Heather and I are gearing up to run 10 half marathons from September 2018 through until August 2019 - one to celebrate each year she should have been with us. Having only ran one half marathon together, for both of us this is a massive challenge and a little bit crazy!
We would love to involve as many people as possible during the next 18 months, and will be posting links and information to the races we’ll be entering, if anyone fancies joining us either on the course or just to support. We will be so grateful of any support anyone can offer, be that through sponsorship, racing with us, or just spreading the word of what we’re doing.
We aim to be fundraising in other slightly less energetic ways over this time too so watch this space!
Gem was truly one of a kind, and brought warmth and laughter to every room she entered. She was absolutely the best chapter of my life and is worth every mile of pain I’m about to endure on her behalf.
Ten years was always going to be a difficult milestone, and nothing will ever fill the void left by her sudden loss, but I’m determined to keep her smile shining through the way it always should.
Lauren, Heather, John and the Gemma’s Smile Team ❤
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