Today we’d like to share Jonathan’s story. Jonathan has set himself an incredible challenge – to walk ten million steps during 2021. This goal works out at a staggering average of 27,397 steps every day (approximately 13 miles!) for 365 days. Jonathan is raising funds for both Candlelighters and The Fire Fighters Charity. Here’s why…
 
‘In March 2018, our lives were turned upside down when our two-year-old daughter, Arya, was admitted to the children’s ward at Scarborough hospital. Her skin had turned yellow, she was very lethargic, and her heart was racing. After taking some blood samples, the doctors said her red blood cell count was critically low, and she needed a blood transfusion. This was a massive shock to us all, especially as I thought we would be in and out of hospital within a few hours and back home. The transfusion worked, but within a few days, Arya’s blood count was again critical; this time she was blue lighted to the children’s oncology unit at Leeds General Infirmary where they performed a lumbar puncture to check for leukaemia. Thankfully, this returned clear, but her blood levels continued to drop. Arya had multiple blood transfusions alongside immunoglobulin infusions to help keep her immune system going.
 
Eventually, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called autoimmune haemolytic anaemia – a condition where her body was attacking her red blood cells. We spent two years travelling back and forth to LGI and the children’s oncology day unit; whilst we were there, we met many families of children who were suffering with cancer. We felt lucky that we could go home with Arya, sometimes for a few days, sometimes a few weeks, until we would have to return for further treatment, whilst these children and their families had to stay in hospital day and night for weeks, even months on end, as they were at too much risk to leave. Eventually, in December 2019, Arya had a treatment which finally stopped her body attacking itself, and today she is a happy, healthy four-year-old who started school in September. 
 
The emotional and physical pain that she suffered throughout that period was heart-breaking for all our family to live through, and all you wish for is that you could take it all away for them – most of the time, you just feel helpless. There were however, some bright moments whilst we were at LGI, and these were provided by the Candlelighters staff. From bringing toast and cereal on the wards in the morning, providing toys, games and an outdoor space to relax in for patients and their families and providing activities for the children to take their minds off waiting when they have their bloods taken. The Candlelighters staff helped us through this difficult couple of years at every turn.’
 
As a firefighter, Jonathan was also able to access support from the Fire Fighters Charity during Arya’s illness and has kindly decided to give something back to both charities. We are so grateful for Jonathan’s support and wish him all the very best on this monumental challenge – all the team here are cheering you on, Jonathan! 

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