Rainbow Run brings colourful smiles to town

Runners and walkers alike brought some colourful cheer and smiles to Reading earlier today as they took part in the inaugural Reading Rainbow Run at Prospect Park.

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Rainbow Runs have become a new style of charity fundraising event, having originated from the Hindu festival “Holi” or “Festival of Colours”. The Hindu festival signifies the victory of good over evil, and for many it has become an occasion to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive and generally spread good cheer around. The traditional Hindu festival commences with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance. The following morning is a complete free-for-all carnival of colours where participants play and chase one another with dry powder and coloured water, and it is this colourful aspect of play and happiness which has been embraced in recent fundraising events across the UK.

Approximately 1150 participants were hopeful of raising in excess of £30,000 today for children’s hospice charity Helen & Douglas House. The Oxford-based hospice receives patient referrals from all across the Home Counties and the Midlands, such is the niche care it provides for children and young adults with life-limiting conditions.

Speaking before the event, hospice spokesperson Janet Carruzzo said: “It’s great to see such a wonderful turnout for this, our first Rainbow Run event in Reading. We hope that we can go on to make this a regular event each year.”

Zumba-style warm-up on the Jack FM stage courtesy of instructor Becky Jones got the runners off to a cheery start before the main event was underway at 11:00am. First past the post home was a very colourful and paint-sodden 13-year old Sam Jones from Oxford.

Pictures: Lynda Bowyer

Participant Mark Fry headed up a team called “Charlie’s Angels” today in memory of his son, Charlie, who passed away at Helen & Douglas House in 2012, having spent the last 12 days of his 17-day life there. Mark said: “What we want to do is raise awareness for the hospice, and also give a little back to them for the care they gave to us and Charlie in 2012.”

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Five-year old Ollie Young from Wokingham was also a recipient of the amazing care at the hospice during his lifetime. Diagnosed with a brain tumour, Ollie sadly passed away two years ago, just one day before his sixth birthday and only twelve weeks from the onset of his symptoms. A charity called the “Ollie Young Foundation” now looks to raise funds for brain cancer research as well as supporting Helen and Douglas House. To date they have raised in excess of £180,000. Today, the team from the Ollie Young Foundation were helping out as volunteers at one of the paint stations along the course. Ollie’s mum Sarah said: “Being here is such a good thing to do in Ollie’s memory. Helen and Douglas House did so much for us when Ollie was ill, and for us to be here to help out in a physical sense is quite a personal way to give something back to them.” Reflecting back on Ollie’s life, Sarah added: “Ollie would have absolutely loved it here today. He was a typical cheeky boy and full of life and laughter. He’d have loved the smiles and the colour.” Ollie’s big brother Alfie, 11, and sporting race number 1130 was running the course today in Ollie’s memory.

Judging by the smiles abound even at the end of a hot and sweaty course, the paint-peppered participants proudly toted their medals and many racegoers have already commented how much they are looking forward to next year’s event.

Helen & Douglas House Hospice have the time and expertise to care for children and young adults with life-shortening conditions and support their families. The two hospice houses offer specialist symptom and pain management, medically-supported short breaks and end-of-life care, as well as counselling and practical support for the whole family.

The charity cares for children, young adults and their families mainly, but not exclusively, from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and parts of London. Helen House opened in 1982 as the world’s first Children’s Hospice. Douglas House opened in 2004 specifically for young adults aged between 16 to 35.

To find out more about Helen & Douglas House Hospice and the work that they do and the support services they provide, visit their website at www.helenanddouglas.org.uk.

Mark Fry has a charity team called Charlie’s Angels in memory of his son, Charlie and details of his charity page which carries out fundraising for Helen & Douglas House. To pledge your support you can visit this link.

The Ollie Young Foundation can also be contacted to find out more about their work raising funding and awareness into brain tumours and related cancers by visiting their website here: www.ollieyoungfoundation.org

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