THE sun shone and a party atmosphere filled a North-East park as thousands of runners donned on their trainers to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Inspirational teenager, Lilli Broadbent, who has battled with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer had the honour of getting the annual Race for Life, in Darlington’s South Park, under way today (Sunday, June 8).
The 19-year-old, from Darlington, was 13 when she was diagnosed with cancer, and underwent months of gruelling chemotherapy. She has now been in remission for five years.
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“It is overwhelming how much people care,” she said. “Events like these make a huge difference into funding research that saves lives.”
About 2,500 women took part in the event, raising around £130,000 for Cancer Research UK.
Getting into the spirit of things was four-year-old Emma-Louise Kenny, from Newton Aycliffe, who was running her first Race for Life in a pink tutu, together with Woodham Burn Pre-School class bear, Buddy.
Her mother, Gillian, 41, who was also taking part said: “She really wanted to do it. She is a bit tired but so excited.”
Running as a tribute to their friend, Angela Gordon, of Ingleby Barwick, were the 25-strong team – Angela’s Angels.
The 38-year-old, who was also running the race, was diagnosed with breast cancer last June and has undergone a mastectomy and chemotherapy.
She said: “I am really proud of them all, and a bit tearful actually after the year I have had.”
Defying the odds was 59-year-old Cheryll Lee, of Northallerton, who underwent reconstructive surgery on her arms on Monday following a car crash earlier this year.
She said: “I run the Race for Life every year and told my surgeon I would be running it this year.
“It makes you realise just how lucky you are. When I was running and it hurt a bit I thought this is nothing compared to what some people here have gone through.”
First home in 20 minutes 46 seconds was Stella Jones, from Darlington, who was running in memory of her nana and granddad.
The 13-year-old, who is also a member of Darlington Harriers, said it felt good to come first.
She was closely followed by Julie Tanner, and Eric, the two-year-old fox terrier.
The 40-year-old ultratunner, of Darlington, said: “Eric is our mascot from Bank Cycles, in Catterick.
“I don't know how I did that as I don't normally run this distance. It is amazing.”
Cancer Research UK receives no Government funding for its research, so money raised through events like Race for Life is crucial to the fight against cancer.
For more information on how to enter an event, visit raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org