Gravesend mother will walk through the night to raise money for cancer charity
PUBLISHED: 11:18 13 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:18 13 August 2014
It is hard to imagine the devastation of discovering that a family member is suffering from cancer.
A mother of two from Gravesend, inspired by her teenage nephew’s courageous battle with the disease, has decided to take part in an overnight charity marathon.
Jolene Morris, 35, a supervisor at Starbucks in Broadway Shopping Centre, Bexleyheath, will join thousands of others in the Shine Night Walk through the centre of London on September 27.
Striding past the city’s most iconic landmarks including Tower Bridge and the London Eye, Jolene will be raising money for Cancer Research UK, spurred on by 14-year-old Levi Smith’s fight against the life threatening disease.
Levi was diagnosed with cancer around the time of his fifth birthday and has since developed three tumours in three parts of his body.
Jolene said: “The first tumour was found in his back and, despite him having radiotherapy, the cancer travelled to his neck and the bottom part of his brain. The third tumour was actually in his brain.
“He had an operation on his back and he’s still having chemotherapy for the tumour in his brain.
“Levi had a scan a few weeks ago which showed the brain tumour is no longer active but the one in his back still is.
“His doctors can’t say what the future holds for him so Levi and the family just take things one day at a time.
“Because he’s had so much radiotherapy and the way the tumour in his back grew around his spinal column, it has caused his body to be pretty twisted, which means he can’t stand up or walk properly. But he wears a brace and also uses a wheelchair.
“He also has a walking frame but he doesn’t like to be seen using this because he’s a proud teenager.
“His dad, Andrew, raised money through a fun day at work to get Levi a motorised scooter which he doesn’t mind using.”
She added: “Levi attends three days a week at Thamesview School in Gravesend and really enjoys it there. He’s also doing quite well academically considering he’s missed so much school because of his illness.
“He’s quite amazing really and a real inspiration. Since he was very young he’s known nothing but being ill but he’s always been very brave and just gets on with his life. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him down in the dumps.
“I’ll definitely be thinking of his bravery when I do the Shine Night Walk in September.”
Jolene will be undertaking the half marathon, which spans a distance of just over 13 miles, with Levi’s mother Victoria and her cousin Tina Scott.
Jolene previously did the Night Walk in 2012 and raised an impressive £500 specifically to help children with cancer, and this year hopes to raise at least the same amount again.
“I wanted to do the walk last year but I missed it for a pretty good reason – my daughter Nicole, who is 19, gave birth to my first grandchild just days before the walk. He’s called Tyler and is now 10 months old,” she said.
Jolene, who is married to Stephen and has another daughter named Mia, says that people have been supportive of her fundraising efforts.
“Sponsorship money has already started to come in. At work in Starbucks they’ve allowed me to have a little collection box on view and when I last rattled it there seemed to be quite a bit in it.
“The main thing is to raise as much money as I can to help fight cancer. Some of the specialist cancer hospitals such as the Marsden in London do a great job and if I can do something to help places like that I’ll be happy.
“We’ll be wearing our bright clothing and carrying glowsticks and having a great time along the way with all the other thousands of people taking part. There’s always a great atmosphere.”
To sponsor Jolene please visit justgiving.com/JoleneMorris2015