Chris Gatenby sits down at a laptop and writes: “Thank You for visiting the Jog For Georgie Fundraising Page. Lung Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Lung Cancer is a nefarious illness. Lung Cancer kills.”
He knows this all too well. It’s February 2018, and six months ago, Chris’ wife Georgie passed away from the disease. “Georgie was an inspiration,” Chris writes, “her inner will and positive attitude were phenomenal.” She was 37 years old, didn’t smoke and enjoyed a career working for local company Bettys until her illness prevented her from doing so. “Georgie wanted to help others who had been given the same devastating news that they’d been diagnosed with lung cancer. Unfortunately, the aggressive nature of her illness prevented her from beginning her fundraising,” Chris tells us.
Chris continues to type: “My pledge, in principle, is simple. Come rain, shine, hail or snow, I will jog, run or walk at least 2 miles a day, every day, for a year. Georgie picked her way forward with unswerving and unrelenting positivity…Like Georgie, I will step out with positivity, so please help me, support me and please do join me in making Georgie’s wish come true. Be a part of something positive. Donate today.”
He presses publish on his Just Giving page, puts on his trainers and runs.
He’s running not just to raise awareness of lung cancer as a disease that can strike anyone, but also to raise funds to support lung cancer research at the University of York. His target is £25,000, which will fund a Master’s student to conduct vital research into the condition under the supervision of Professor Dawn Coverley, whose research into the reproduction of proteins is helping us understand how cancers develop in their earliest stages.
Lung cancer currently kills 44 women every day in the UK. It’s the UK’s biggest cancer killer, resulting in 36,000 deaths a year in the UK. Research conducted by people like Professor Coverley will ultimately bring this number down.
“Progress in cancer research is usually the result of many small steps forward, but having an extra researcher will help us progress a little bit faster towards new ways to treat people with lung cancer.” – Professor Dawn Coverley
Fast forward almost a year, and Chris’ daily small steps have raised a phenomenal £50,000 towards lung cancer research at York. His plans to fund a scholarship for a Master’s studentship have extended to supporting that student through their PhD studies, he’s run over 500 miles, hundreds of people have joined him on his runs and over 1,000 people have supported the Georgina Gatenby Scholarship.
He’s been featured heavily in local news, has completed a run in almost every one of England’s counties, had people complete challenges themselves in aid of the Georgina Gatenby Scholarship and has even hosted one of his runs on campus for York staff and students to get behind him.
And as Chris comes to the end of his year of running, he’s still going strong. He’s got just under £13,000 left to reach his target, and a renewed pledge to keep going until his fundraising for lung cancer research in Georgie’s name is complete.
“When I set out with the idea of running daily, never did I fully comprehend the true power and resonance of Georgie’s love, humility, compassion, bravery and steely will. So if £65,000 isn’t raised by 6 February I will continue, like Georgie, to pick my way forward with unswerving positivity until the target is reached.”
“She’s my benchmark, so please help me, support me and please do join me in making Georgie’s wish come true.”
Update: Since writing this article, Chris has managed to reach his target of raising £65,000 to support the Georgina Gatenby Scholarship at the University of York! From everyone at York Alumni Association, we want to say a huge thank you as well as congratulations to Chris and everyone who has supported him with his efforts.