Natasha’s Challenge for Pilgrims Hospices, Thanet

In memory of her beloved mother, Joanne Leadbeater (formerly Karczewski) who sadly passed away in 2018, Natasha Karczewski is raising money for charity by taking on the gruelling London Marathon this October, part of an overarching fundraising effort Natasha’s Challenge.

 

Natasha, 25 and middle of five sisters, is raising money for Pilgrims Hospices, a charity close to her heart, and one which provided end-of-life care to her mother Joanne after she was diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer known as a glioblastoma grade 4 brain tumour in 2017.

 

This isn’t Natasha’s first stint at fundraising for the charity, having previously taken on a sky-dive in 2017 and a wing-walk in 2021, raising an impressive £400 and £1800 respectively.

 

Pilgrims Hospices has also been a part of the family for most of their life, with Joanne working as a Senior Health Care Assistant for the charity between 2010-2014, and then retraining as a Palliative Nurse from 2014 for them in the community and residential.

 

Taking on the London Marathon is no small feat, completing the 26.2 miles is an outstanding achievement by itself, but with the added responsibility of raising funds making it tougher CommunityAd caught up with Natasha, Marketing and Recruitment Manager for Care Match UK, to find out how she’s preparing, the inspiration behind her incredible fundraising journeys so far, and how our readers might be able to support her in return.

 

Speaking to us at CommunityAd, Natasha explained: “I actually applied to take on the skydive a month before my mum had her first seizure in June 2017. I’ve always loved charities; I’ve supported the RNLI a lot and I wanted to move on to challenges that can raise money but also give me a sense of purpose and do a bit of good after finishing university.

“In September she went to King’s Hospital on my younger sister’s 18th birthday for brain surgery but they couldn’t remove it all as it was too dangerous. That’s when they told us later on that it was a glioblastoma brain tumour.

“A couple weeks after my sister’s wedding in June 2018, I got a text message saying she’d gone back in, and that was last time she went into hospital. I started to raise money for my birthdays on behalf of Pilgrims, raising around £300 each time. After she passed away, I continued to do the personal fundraising, but of course we had the pandemic.”

 

During the lockdown Natasha decided to look for another challenge, and that’s when she found the wing-walk, and with the aid of businesses, family and friends, put on a raffle which helped raised over £1800.

 

Speaking about the charity, Natasha added: “Pilgrims Hospices is such an amazing local charity to Kent, anyone I talk to always has a positive story about them, because they are genuinely amazing.

“The days my mum was there, it was her friends who were looking after her, they also looked after us, bringing us teas and coffees, and they set up afternoon tea for us girls. They went above and beyond every time, and I don’t think that was just because they were friends, that’s just who they are.

“This time I’ll be running the TCS London Marathon for Pilgrims Hospices, and I am trying to get fit, I’m going to the gym and running on the treadmill. I’ve got a goal and I will run the marathon, even if I have to crawling, I will get there.

“My aim is that by summer I can do half of the marathon, it’s just the endurance part that might be an issue.

“Pilgrims is all publicly funded and I’m just really thankful for any help, I know it benefits so many people. I couldn’t have done it without friends and family, donating, sharing the fundraiser and everything else, they are amazing. Some people I don’t even know donated and to see people give so much is amazing.

Natasha’s pride and love for her mother was brimming, adding: “She was the most kind and giving person I knew, she would give absolutely everything to anyone. I’d always have friends staying round and she’d always take people in if they had bad situations; she was everyone’s mum. She lived her life, and she knew we was going to be okay even if we make mistakes.”

 

The TCS London Marathon will take place on the 2nd October, and whilst working on her endurance, Natasha will also be hosting a range of fundraising events and opportunities, such as a ‘Something Blue’ event at Gingers on 2nd July, which welcomes you with a test tube shot if you wear something blue.

 

To keep up to date and to donate to this incredible fundraising journey Natasha’s Challenge make your way over to her JustGiving page or follow her Instagram page @natashaschallenge.

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