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MS mum's gruelling Parkrun challenge raises cash for her stem cell treatment

PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 April 2019

Tracey Hergest relies on an army of supporters. Picture: Deanne Richards

Tracey Hergest relies on an army of supporters. Picture: Deanne Richards

Archant

A mum struck down by multiple sclerosis is half way through a Parkrun challenge, and needs public support to raise money for vital stem cell treatment.

She has already completed the runs in Dartford, Bexley, Eltham, Bromley and others.

Tracey's Race to Walk next takes place at Beckenham Place Park at 9am on Saturday, April 27.

Tracey Hergest, from Dartford, is more than halfway through her challenge to complete 10 parkruns in her wheelchair.

She said: “The support from community, friends, family and parkrunners has been incredible. I want to say a huge thank you to them all - I couldn't keep going without them. I am literally in a race to walk as the treatment I need cannot be done if my illness worsens. The atmosphere at the parkruns has been truly inspiring with so many well wishers cheering me on.”

Tracey, mum to Jacob and Sam - both at school in Wilmington - has a severe form of MS that struck suddenly, leaving her only able to walk a short distance with sticks and frequently in pain or with other severe symptoms.

Stem cell treatment offers a lifeline but is only available if you can afford the treatment.

Supported by family and friends, everything is being done to try to raise enough money in time to halt or potentially reverse the effects of this cruel illness.

Tracey has been overwhelmed by the kindness of individuals and small businesses, and said: “It is a lot of money to raise.

“If a larger company or wealthy individual could help it would make all the difference to meeting the target.”

Her good friend Amanda Kuzmanovski said: “I am supporting her through this. It all started this year in Dartford Park in January when she completed the run there.

“Now Tracey is more than half way through the challenge and despite being very unwell is determined to be at Beckenham Place Park and complete yet another for this amazing cause.”

In a bid to increase awareness of her Go Fund Me page for life-changing stem cell treatment Tracey is attempting to complete 10 local parkruns in different locations during this year.

Parkrun is a weekly, free, timed 5km race taking place at 9am in parks all over the world and open to everyone to take part no matter their ability and often fitness.

For many it is becoming a way to kick start a fitness regime, and for others like Tracey, it can be to raise money for treatments.

Amanda said: “Tracey, suffering severely from multiple sclerosis, can't run at the moment, in fact she can only walk a short distance with sticks. So, she can only take on this challenge with the help of her willing runner friends who will help push and carry where needed her wheelchair around each course with Tracey herself attempting to walk as much of the last part of the course as she can.”

She added: “This really is a race to walk for Tracey who may soon not be able to take part at all without the treatment she so desperately needs.”

The Multiple Sclerosis Trust said: “Stem cell therapies are a type of largely experimental treatments for MS.”

A spokesman added: “Stem cells are part of the body's normal repair system which replaces damaged or dying cells where possible. Stem cells are unspecialised as they haven't developed to carry out a particular function yet.

“Each stem cell has the potential to develop into one of a number of different cell types depending on the body's needs at a particular time, such as becoming a nerve cell, a red blood cell or a heart muscle cell. “Once they've undergone this change they're known as specialised cells and they can't go on to change again.

Using your own stem cells minimises the risk of them being rejected by your body.”

To help Tracey, visit her page at www.gofundme.com/Traceys-Race-to-Walk

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