1 July 2022

Girl’s cancer appeal inspires runner’s beer barrel challenge

By Rebecca Hannant

A Withernsea man ran the Hull 10k with a 140lb pink beer barrel strapped to his back to raise money for a seven-year-old girl who has a rare form of cancer.

More than 3,000 runners took part in the race around the University and Beverley and Newland wards of Hull on Sunday, June 12.

James Thompson, 54, a Hull 10k regular, ran with the barrel full of water – not beer – on his back in aid of young Eden Smith, from West Yorkshire, who in April 2021 was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer that has a 40-50 percent chance of long-term survival at diagnosis.

James said: “I did this for Eden, a seven-year-old girl who has unfortunately got cancer and is in desperate need of treatment in the USA. Her favourite colour is pink, and I ran the race with a bright pink beer barrel on my back just to make it a bit harder as in previous years I have run the race in firefighter uniform with breathing apparatus on my back.”

Eden’s parents, Jen and Lee, are fundraising for potentially lifesaving treatment that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they have called on fundraisers to help.

James added: “I had a fair bit of interest, and Ren’s Pantry in Queen Street, Withernsea, has been a great supporter of my fundraising efforts. So far, I have raised £1,056 in sponsorship from companies and people donating on my sponsorship form.”

Jen and Lee wrote on their JustGiving page: “All through the 14 rounds of chemo and endless tests and scans, Eden has kept her smile and sense of fun despite the drugs making her extremely sick. She always maintains her impeccable manners and politeness even when she is feeling very poorly. Her strength and bravery are truly incredible, and she gives strength to everyone around her too.”

After her diagnosis, Eden started with 80 days of Rapid Cojec chemotherapy during which she needed several blood transfusions, bone marrow aspirates and stem-cell harvesting. Eden also tested positive for Covid, which resulted in her treatment being delayed.

After scans and tests showed that she was not yet ready to move on to the next stage of the treatment plan, which was surgery, Eden endured six rounds of BIT chemotherapy, which made her very ill.

Eden’s family also have a Facebook page, Eden’s Army, where they post updates about her treatment. To donate, visit justgiving.com/campaign/eden.