The Aya Willow Challenge

Parent Johanna Zakiewicz has a very special reason for supporting Rockinghorse – her daughter Aya Willow.

Aya was born on the 16th July 2017 suffering from meconium aspiration syndrome. This was caused by the inhalation of meconium (baby poo) into her lungs during labour and the resulting infection in the body.

She spent three days in the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) in Brighton followed by further treatment at Great Ormond Street in London, before being transferred to the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) back in Brighton where she spent four weeks. Aya was finally sent home in August for four months of home oxygen therapy.

The Rockinghorse charity have reported that eight months on, Aya is now totally oxygen free and is a smiley and healthy little girl. Johanna and her family are so grateful for the care they received at the Alex and TMBU that they decided they wanted to do something to help other sick babies and children.

They are hoping to raise £8,000 to pay for a new ventilator for the High Dependency Unit at the Alex – a piece of equipment that Aya relied on during her time at the hospital. The unit doesn’t currently have enough ventilators available and so patients are prioritised based on their need and urgency for the equipment.

As the official fundraising arm of the Alex, Rockinghorse raise money for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment. Through their fundraising, the Aya Willow Challenge team will help them make a real difference to some very poorly babies and children who rely on the services at the paediatric hospital.

Johanna and her close friends have this week embarked on their challenge. During this epic fundraiser, they will trek and cycle from Scafell Pike in the Lake District to Devils Dyke in Brighton.

The Aya Willow challenge is a Hike-Road Cycle-Mountain Cycle combo being carried out by close friends and family in May 2018. The plan is:

13th May – Hike up Scafell Pike with little Aya Willow
14th May to 17th May – Kendal to Winchester road bike cycle
18th May to 19th May – Winchester to Devils Dyke South Downs Way mountain bike cycle.

They began the seven-day challenge on Monday 14th May, joined by little Aya, when they hiked Scafell Pike in glorious sunshine. Today leg of the challenge will see them cycle to Wigan. They will then cycle from Kendal to Winchester by road with the final leg of the journey from Winchester to Devils Dyke via mountain bike along the South Downs Way.

As of Today, Johanna and the Away Willow Challenge team have raised just over £3,400 – well on their way to 50% of their target! To sponsor them, please click here to visit their dedicated Just Giving page:

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