A BILSTON man’s first marathon has generated more than £20,000 for a cancer charity.
Mark Smith dedicated his task to the memory of his mother, Ray, who died a few weeks before he competed in the Edinburgh Marathon.
The 38-year-old’s decision to run after such an immense loss was vindicated when family, friends and business associates rallied to his cause.
In an astonishing show of support, they have pledged £17,590 through his JustGiving donation web page, drawing in a further £3,128.75 in Gift Aid. And the figure just keeps growing.
Mark’s mother, from Bonnyrigg, contracted cancer two years ago, but had been responding well to treatment and chemotherapy at the cancer unit of the Western General Hospital.
But, early this year, the disease affecting her bowel and liver became more aggressive, causing a deterioration in her condition.
Mark said: “The consultants stopped treatment at the end of March, saying there was nothing more that could be done for mum. It was heart-breaking because she wasn’t old and had always been so positive about her illness right through the treatment. Even when she was given the news, she gave the family strength to carry on.”
It was a difficult time for Mark, who lives in Seafield Close with his wife, Linda, and sons Finlay (8), Alfie (5) and Jude (2).
His mother was transferred to the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh to receive specialist care. It was a tough time for Mark, his father, David senior, his brother, David, and their families.
His training regime for the marathon was thrown into chaos and he even wondered if he would have the physical and mental strength to complete the 26-mile run, for which he had registered in October.
When Mrs Smith passed away on April 23, Mark was devastated. A collection at the funeral service contributed £1120, which was donated to the Marie Curie Hospice.
But Mark was also determined to raise funds for Cancer Research UK as a thank you for the exceptional care his mother had been given at the Western.
He said: “I am quite fit and play a bit of football, but I knew I’d have to build up my core fitness, so I headed to the gym.”
The key moment in his fund-raising task was a friend helping him set up a JustGiving account to seek donations.
Mark, who runs a glazing company in Portobello, said: “I had only three-and-a-half weeks to go ‘til the marathon, so I was leaving it a bit late.
“But I sent out a mailing to a few businesses and word spread. I started getting text messages, people phoned up and I got sent letters of support. It was quite incredible - a fantastic response.”
More importantly, his fund pot grew at a furious rate thanks to generous donors using Twitter and Facebook to link to the JustGiving web page.
His £5,000 target had more than tripled by the time he donned his running gear to pound the streets of the capital on May 27.
He completed the marathon in a very respectable time of four hours and 10 minutes.
Mark said: “It was a hard struggle because there were tears on a few occasions. But I was so focused, nothing was going to stop me that Sunday.
“When I crossed the finishing line, I just went to bits.”