Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve been a huge fan of Spider-Man.
Some of my earliest memories are of pretending to be Peter Parker’s famous alter-ego, swinging from building to building in a quest to rid New York City of crime and injustice. I had the action figures, the comic books, the t-shirt – heck, I even spent countless Saturday afternoons watching the truly dreadful 1970s live action TV series. If you can’t remember it, count yourself lucky.
There is just something about the Marvel character that resonates with me and continues to reel me in, and I never quite tire of spending time in the company of the colourful web slinger. Which is why, when an opportunity presented itself to dress up like the man himself just for a day, I simply couldn’t turn it down.
Next month, I will be donning the famous red and blue suit in Bath to partake in the world heritage city’s annual Half Marathon event. But my motivation for doing so is not to fulfil a long-held burning desire to imitate Spidey. My one and only reason is to support and raise awareness for some of life’s true superheroes.
Next month, I will be running for Josh. Josh received a severe brain injury following an accident when he was just a few weeks old, leaving him with cerebral palsy. Quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair, his potentially life-limited condition did not prevent him from dreaming of being a race car driver, cruising round a race track in a super-fast Ferrari.
Next month, I will be running for Alisha. Alisha was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when cancer cells were found in her neck and chest. With a considerable love for animals, Alisha’s ambition was to become a zookeeper and get up close and personal with the animals at London Zoo.
Next month, I will be running for Harrison. Harrison was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when he was just 17 months old. He was on steroids and underwent intensive chemotherapy treatment with lumber punctures, which resulted in weight gain, hair loss and delays in his ability to walk. Harrison, who had two operations to insert a port for chemotherapy, hoped to visit the ultimate dinosaur exhibition at the Natural History Museum.
Josh, Alisha and Harrison all had their wishes come true, and they’re not the only ones. Make-A-Wish Foundation UK is a terrific organisation that exists for one sole purpose: to grant magical wishes to brave children and young people. There are currently 20,000 children and young people in the UK fighting a life-threatening condition, and in 2015 Make-A-Wish wants to grant 1,000 wishes. In order to achieve this, £7.5 million needs to be raised – and with no Government funding being received, that’s where donning silly costumes come in.
I’m certainly no superhero. I’m just a skinny man who is reasonably good at running, and occasionally also adept at putting a relatively coherent sentence together. But I strongly believe in this cause.
As a father that counts his blessings each and every day, I can only begin to imagine how it must feel to watch your child struggle with illness, and what immense joy this organisation brings to these children and their families in the midst of considerable struggle.
I will be running 13 miles dressed as Spider-Man alongside my good friend Ben (as the caped crusader Batman) to recognise real superheroes, and would greatly welcome your support via JustGiving; it’s secure and takes just moments. If you can perhaps spare just a small amount – maybe the cost of your cup of coffee for today – I promise you that your donation will be put to tremendous use.