Despite having limited experience, a 48-year-old dance teacher has pledged to run her way through the next 52 weeks – without a single day off - to raise money for a cancer charity, a cause close to her heart as two of her “dear friends” were diagnosed with cancer, just 18 months apart.
Jennifer Seymour’s epic challenge of running 5k every day for a year aims to raise £2,000 for Cancer Research UK - a charity she has been supporting for several years by taking part in their ‘Relay for Life’.
The cause is very close to Jennifer’s heart as she says she sadly has too many reasons to support the charity.
Jennifer’s childhood friend Megan Elliott – who lives in Warrington, Cheshire– was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.
Pictured: Jennifer and her childhood friend, Megan Elliott.
“Megan and I have known each other since we were kids, we lived next door to each other for many years, went to school together, were bridesmaids at each other’s weddings, and to this day remain the best of friends,” Jennifer said.
“It was devastating when she received the diagnosis, but after chemotherapy and radiotherapy she pulled through and was given the all clear the following year.”
Only months after Megan completed her treatment, another friend of Jennifer’s was also diagnosed with the disease.
Local mum-of-two Karryna Lovesey was 41 when doctors discovered she had a rare genetic cancer in early 2018. The cancer rapidly spread to Karryna’s liver and, despite months of gruelling chemotherapy and a heroic battle, she sadly passed away in October that year.
“Karryna was a big part of my life and it was absolutely devastating to lose her so suddenly,” Jennifer said.
Pictured: Jennifer is running in memory of her friend Karynna.
“We first met eighteen years ago through our husbands, who were good mates and keen surfers. She was the life and soul of the party and ‘teachers pet’ at my adult tap class, where she was renowned for her enthusiasm and bright red tap shoes!
“She had the most amazing smile and was one of the happiest people you could ever meet – a beautiful person both inside and out.
“That’s why I’m determined to turn a negative into something positive and do what I can to help beat this disease."
On 25 April, Jennifer took over from her friend and fellow Cancer Research UK supporter Chris Lee, as he completed his own ‘5k a day’ year-long challenge. The pair exchanged a ‘virtual baton’ via social media as Jennifer began her adventure.
“I am not by any means an elite athlete,” Jennifer said. “My dad was a marathon runner and my sister likes running.
Pictured: Jennifer says she is not "an elite athlete".
“A few years ago, the whole family decided to do the airport run. It was the first time I ran in 20 years. It absolutely killed me, and it was only three kms.”
“I like to run when there is a reason for it,” Jennifer added, explaining she has run a few 5ks for charities such as the Stroke association, Mind Jersey and Headway with her son, “a good runner”, as well as 10ks for CRUK.
“It’s always been sort of sporadic, it was not part of my normal routine,” Jennifer explained. “This is the first time I got into a bit of routine and I am feeling a bit more confident.
“I run 5ks in 28 minutes so I am not a fast runner, but I am now looking forward to the run.”
Now having done more than 40 runs, Jennifer is starting to enjoy running. “The first couple of weeks were tough,” she said. “It took a few days to get used to it and get into a routine.”
Pictured: Jennifer's friends and family have been joining her on her runs.
Jennifer’s friends and family have helped make the first few weeks of her challenge enjoyable by joining her on her runs.
“Most days I have someone running with me,” she said. “It adds a social element to it. I have had lots of support from my family and friends watching me. The support and camaraderie from running buddies is great!”
Jennifer has so far raised just over £1,300 out of the £2,000 target. She is hoping to bring in more money through a virtual event for her 50th run on 13 June, which anyone in the island can join in by running, walking, cycling or even driving in the car.
“Despite all that is going on in the world right now with the Covid-19 pandemic, cancer never sleeps,” Jennifer said.
Pictured: Jennifer has raised £1,300 so far.
“It’s happening right now, which is why I’m fundraising right now for Cancer Research UK.
“The challenge will be tough, especially on the days when I have several dance classes to teach as well, but my motivation will be knowing that all the money I raise is helping Cancer Research UK to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”
As Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the Channel Islands, said the charity does not receive funding from the Government and therefore relies on the support of people like Jennifer “to raise vital funds to support our lifesaving work”.
“We are so impressed and incredibly grateful to Jennifer for taking on such an epic challenge,” she added.
“Cancer Research UK has made enormous progress in the fight against cancer. However, we have only been able to do this thanks to the dedication and commitment of our volunteers and supporters without whom we would not be able to fund our research.
“We look forward to following Jennifer’s journey over the course of the next year and wish her lots of luck with the challenge. Together, we will beat cancer.”
Lead picture: From left, Megan Elliott, Jennifer Seymour and Karryna Lovesey.
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