By Kirra Grimes
A FORMER Foster High School student has set herself the challenge of running her first marathon to raise money for the hospital that cared for her mother during her battle with cancer.
Gemma Baldwin, 22, has set up a campaign to raise funds for Gippsland Southern Health Service by encouraging people to sponsor her run in the Runaway Noosa Marathon on May 25.
Gemma was inspired to participate in the 42.2km run after her mum, Donna McIvor (nee Prain), of Foster, passed away after a battle with bowel cancer in July last year, aged 46.
Donna received palliative care at Leongatha Hospital, and Gemma said staff went above and beyond to make the family comfortable during the difficult time.
Now, Gemma wants to give something back, and aims to raise $5000 to help improve facilities at the hospital so more local families can stay together and stay closer to home while undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy.
Her mum would have been fully on board with the campaign, Gemma says.
“Mum would’ve loved it. She was the one who took me to my first fun run as a kid and I’ve loved running ever since,” she said.
“She watched me run a half marathon, and I’ve always wanted to do a marathon, and I thought why not do it for a cause?
“The staff were amazing here [at Leongatha]. The nurses and doctors really cared for mum and did everything to make her happy.
“But she was up and back to Melbourne a lot during her treatment. She was in and out of surgery, radiotherapy and chemo for years. It was so much travelling. So, I’d love to raise money to improve resources so people don’t have to travel as much.”
Gemma’s been training since January and has so far raised over $2,400 through an online campaign as well as several donation points in Leongatha including at IGA, the newsagency and the Bendigo Bank.
She’d love to see the community get on board with the cause and invites anyone who’d like to help out to head to www.gofundme.com/marathon-for-gippsland-southern-health-service.