While looking for inspiring stories to share with you, the 20Km of Brussels’ Quentin De Longueville, suggested that I contact Veronique Forgeur. He described Veronique as a person with ‘no limit energy to help kids with cancer’.
Veronique Forgeur is the founder of the Run for Hope team, a team of runners, most of whom have been affected directly or indirectly by childhood cancer, they share the same desire to help kids and adolescents currently being treated. The Run for Hope runners focus their efforts in fundraising for projects that improve the quality of life of kids and adolescents with cancer during and after their treatments. They fundraise in order to purchase «wellbeing» medical equipment that improve treatments, minimize certain secondary effects and reduce pain but are not reimbursed by the social security. Additionally, they fundraise for fun and didactic activities, creative workshops and relaxing breaks for the children and adolescents at the hospital.
To help kids, it is important to also support their families. They hence fund projects to help their siblings and parents.
The first contact I had with Veronique I felt a comfortable easiness, her voice calm and joyful was not at all preparing me for the story that followed and the difficult times her family had undergone the previous years. She positively responded with a warm smile to my request answering questions about the Run for Hope initiative, although it was clear from the beginning that she had a very busy schedule mostly organizing fundraising events among other things for her team Run for Hope for the upcoming 20km of Brussels. She confessed to me that it was the first time an interview made her realize how big her project has grown to be.
Veronique shared with me how it all started and her vision for Run for Hope:
Veronique, her family and motivations
As a family we have navigated the darkest days of diagnosis and treatment and luckily now we live in the brightest days of remission. We feel blessed to live this joy. Having lived this time and being aware how cancer is touching so many young lives, I was determined to find a way that I could pay back. I wanted to find a way that makes a difference to the lives of those undergoing this journey.
What every parent wants for their child, is a childhood filled with fond and happy memories. Treatment can rob of a child’s carefree years. Our journey of treatment included moments of happiness, where activities, support and distractions were enjoyed while the heavy treatment was doing its thing. My heart skips with joy when I hear my child refer to his treatment period with warm memories. It is proof that the distractions were and continue to be a vital part of the treatment process. He goes forward to adulthood with his childhood years preserved as best as they could be under the circumstances.
Our family story was my motivation to start Run for Hope and to fundraise for the activities that can help both the patients and their families, during as well as after treatment. Such projects and activities create distractions and memories, but also empower both the child and their families. Projects like the use of virtual reality googles, which provide pain relief and evasion, and the memory necklace, which provides tangible evidence of the road they are travelling. These projects have proven to be an effective form of support. Naturally projects like these cost money, which is sadly not always available.
Knowing this, I knew that everything that could improve the well-being of a child or adolescent during the treatment was the area I wanted to fundraise for. But how? In remission we were encouraged to live life to the fullest, to do everything and experience it all, to play sports, to live healthy, to have adventures, to enjoy all that life can offer. It became then clear to me, sport was the way.
The intricacies of the 20km of Brussels.
Running in one of the most beautiful cities of Europe is a privilege. The course frightening for even the most experienced runner. The Brussels 20Km was the perfect, if not a daunting, challenge.
As a complete novice both on the sporting and the creation of a running team front, I started to prepare. I needed to create a team. I sought for sponsors. I asked for help. I found ways to ensure that the funds raised would be administered and brought to the places were they would be fully used. I wanted to reduce any loss of funds by unnecessary administration. I liaised with the hospital to see where the funds would be best used. While at the same time slowly starting to train and prepare for what was an enormous challenge for me personally. I was encouraged by the huge support I received from all sides. From family and friends, colleagues, sponsors and especially from the organizers of the 20km itself. Nothing was too much. All difficulties were surmountable. Suddenly my small idea began to grow legs and it has been running ever since.
Running for Hope
Three years down the line, as we prepare for our third run, Run for Hope has a team of over 250 runners. Everyone runs as a team to raise funds for the activities and projects, but some run with specific children in mind and specific hospitals they wish to benefit from the funds raised. Running has many positive personal benefits, running for a cause adds another dimension and motivation.
Hope is the word that best describes my experience at the 20km. It is after all encompassed in our team name. Its synonyms include, achievement, ambition, anticipation, aspiration, belief, concern, confidence, desire, faith, goal, promise, prospect and wish. This perfectly encapsulates the journey of running the 20km but also the journey that these young people navigate through treatment. Both the families in treatment and the runners dare to hope.
Organizing Run for Hope and running is so rewarding, it is so life affirming to be surrounded by such positivity knowing that the challenge we face will make life better for the little ones that have the greatest challenge of all, their fight for their lives.
You want to share an inspiring story, contact us at running @neweurope.eu