//Words by Lorraine Lewis//
Looking at my social media posts and photos you would think I have always run, done obstacle races and crazy challenges. This is not the case at all.
I spent 4 years (2010-2014) in and out of hospital when my mother in law was receiving treatment for cancer. It was a period of time, which changed my life and is why I now do what I do. During that time, we practically lived at the hospital. I noticed how difficult it was for us and other people receiving treatment for cancer financially, physically and emotionally. I also noticed what a lonely place it could be outside visiting time, giving people too much time to think about what they were going through.
Spending that period of time in hospital made me take a look at my life and what could I do to help people who were in hospital receiving treatment. At the time one thing that bugged me was the fact that people had to pay £10 per day or £35 a week to watch TV. It is easy enough for people to say you can sacrifice TV, but when you are in hospital 24 hours a day with nothing to do, it becomes essential. I decided I was going to fundraise to pay for TV and DVD players in all the private rooms so people didn’t have to pay to watch TV.
In January 2014, my friend mentioned to me about running Tough Mudder with her. I agreed, I didn’t really know what it entailed other than my brother had done it the year before and had to have stitches.
I signed up. I told people what I was doing, they laughed. They told me I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I got sponsored because people thought I had lost the plot and that I wouldn’t be able to complete it. I had my doubts too but it wasn’t about me. It was about getting these TV’s as I knew how important they were to others. So, I went from being that person that just lived on the cross trainer and was weak, to someone who began to run and train properly. When I turned up at Tough Mudder Midlands 14th July 2017 and completed it, it was the best feeling ever. I knew I could pay for the half of the TV’s I needed. The next year I signed up for Rat Race Dirty Weekend (20 miles and 200 obstacles), even more intense than the last. However, I was able to raise the money I needed to pay for the rest of the TV’s. So, I had achieved my goal and it is amazing seeing people use the TV’s with the ones you have to pay for pushed to the side. I also discovered, I loved running and obstacle racing. I was going to use this to continue to help others.
My husband Lee and I talked about how we can help others on a long term basis receiving treatment for cancer in hospital. We came up with doing gift packs for adult with cancer, which would help take their mind off thinking about cancer, help relieve any side effects of treatment and give people something nice to look forward to. We wanted them to be free and use it as a way to spend time with people to brighten up their day. So in May 2016, The Lewis Foundation was born. We had no funding or money. I did my first race with 2 of my friends at Pretty Muddy. We raised £200 and this funded the first 2 months of packs. From that, I continued to take on runs and obstacle race on my own and getting other people to join me. I’m good at persuading people to sign up! Every time I did a challenge, I fell in love even more. It was a way to do something I love and help people at the same time. A large amount of money raised from the events I do and do as a team, help to fund our packs.
The money we raise enables us to go into hospitals in Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes every week with a gift list of 24 different packs such as portable radios, reading books, adult colouring books and model craft kits. A patient can pick whatever pack they like and they are all free of charge.
The best feeling about the challenges I do is inspiring others to join in and ask if they can give it go. So, I have many people join my adventures to help raise money to bring a smile to people when they need it the most.
This year I am doing a 1000 miles’ challenge, my own personal challenge to raise money for my charity. I have plenty of challenges lined up for next year already such as the National Three Peaks. What keeps me going during the challenges is the difference it will make to others. When I feel like I can’t do it, I think of the people receiving treatment and have a word with myself to get on with it. When I go into the hospital handing out the packs and seeing the physical difference it makes to people who receive a gift, it makes all the training and challenges I do worth it.