More than a hundred brightly dressed walkers put their best feet forward and raised £50,000 in memory of a young girl who died from a rare heart condition.
Shani Berman, five, from Elstree, passed away in 2017, having been diagnosed as a baby with a congenital heart defect known as pulmonary atresia.
Her family set up charity Shine For Shani to fundraise for medical research and equipment that can help improve the life chances of other children with heart conditions.
The charity’s Pulse Challenge, a 20-mile walk from London to Hertfordshire held on 12 September, will help fund a new ECMO machine for the cardiac intensive care unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
Shani’s family revealed the youngster herself benefited from one of these machines at GOSH following heart surgery.
The charity is also funding a pioneering Holoscope at the Schneider Children’s Medical Centre in Tel Aviv, which allows doctors and surgeons to view a 3D image of the child’s heart in the air.
Wearing sunflower yellow T-shirts, 130 participants started out at GOSH and made their way through London to Hampstead Heath, where they were joined by a second group of walkers.
At 5.75 miles – a distance chosen to symbolically reflect how old Shani was when she died following complex open heart surgery in 2017– the rest of the participants joined the group, ending at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue, where they were greeted by a rainbow-coloured balloon arch at the finish line.
Shani’s mum Juliet, said: “We knew that planning a big event in these uncertain times would be an extra challenge and so we are especially thrilled so many people signed up to walk and volunteered to help.
“The sun shone, and friendly conversation, a wonderful community spirit and the smiles on everyone’s faces made the long walk pass quickly and it was so lovely to see Shani’s friends, family and even one of her teachers being part of a very special day.”
For more information about Shine For Shani, visit www.shineforshani.org or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/s4spulsechallenge2021
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