A 31-strong team of family and friends will complete the race in support of Gracie-Mae McHugh and Candlelighters. 

The lives of Gracie-Mae and her family were turned upside down in February when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, aged just 2. Parents Helen and Danny, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, first took Gracie to hospital in January with flu-like symptoms. She was discharged, but at home quickly deteriorated, losing the ability to walk, and developing a concerning rash. Upon returning to the hospital, they received the devastating diagnosis and were immediately transferred for specialist care at Leeds Children’s Hospital. 

The diagnosis came as a total shock to the family, especially given just a few days earlier, Gracie had been playing and dancing like usual. Gracie was initially placed on an aggressive chemotherapy plan which she has responded well to, but she’ll require a further 2 years of chemotherapy to prevent the cancer from returning. Helen and Danny, who also have three other children, have praised the support they have received from us since Gracie’s diagnosis. We have spent time with the family, offering guidance and support, and helping to explain Gracie’s diagnosis to her brothers in a child-friendly way.  

Now, a team of 31 of Gracie’s family and friends are showing their support by taking on the Manchester Half Marathon on Sunday 15th October to raise funds for the charity. It is hoped that if Gracie is well enough, she will be waiting at the finish line to see everyone complete the race.  

Gracie’s mum, Helen, says, “From day one when Gracie was diagnosed, Candlelighters have been there for us through the darkest of times. In the first few weeks when we were feeling so scared and lost, they were always on hand to provide emotional support and a shoulder to cry on. The support they offer is endless and they are always a comforting presence on the ward. As much as you expect a children’s cancer ward to be a sad, depressing place they make sure that it is a cheerful, happy environment.  

I could say so much more about them but can never put into words how much they helped us and continue to do so, making the worst time of our life just that little bit more bearable. Although we can never really repay their support and kindness a group of us will be running the Manchester Half Marathon in October raising money for Candlelighters and the amazing work they continue to do!” 

Gracie’s family have raised over £2,800 so far. They also hope to book a special trip for Gracie when she is feeling well enough to allow her to make some wonderful, happy memories.

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