For the eighth year in a row, I’m organising a team to run in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) Half Marathon on Sunday 18 May. Not only because I love to run, but because I’m determined to keep the memory of Henry, Jasper and Evan, my first-born triplet sons, alive and to give other premature and critically ill babies like them the best chance at survival.
Where it all began
It was in the midst of the darkest time of my life that my team, Running for Premature Babies (RFPB), was born. We had just buried our last remaining baby triplet, Jasper, 12 weeks after we’d said goodbye to his brother Henry, and six weeks after we had let our little Evan go. My husband, Ash, and I were left heartbroken but determined that our precious boys would never be forgotten and that something good would come from their lives.
My little boys weren’t here anymore but I was still their Mum. I felt like it was up to me to make sure that their short, but very inspiring, lives mattered.
RFPB all began with Ash trying to help me get through the lonely days without our babies. I had a lot of time on my hands as I was still on maternity leave, so Ash suggested I get fit and train for the upcoming SMH Half Marathon, and use it to raise funds for the Royal’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Henry, Jasper and Evan’s memory. I thought this was a brilliant idea and started to train. I asked a few friends to join me, and then decided to cast the net wider and see if I could find a few other runners to join us. I put up some flyers in local cafes, sharing my story and asking if anyone wanted to join me to raise funds in my sons’ memory.
What happened next was totally overwhelming! Nine months to the day after Jasper died I toed the start line of the SMH Half Marathon with a team of 98 runners. And, that year, we raised $80,000, buying four new humidicribs for the RHW’s NICU!
That’s when I knew that Henry, Jasper and Evan’s legacy could help to save the lives of other babies just like them. So, the RHW Foundation set up the Henry, Jasper & Evan Smith Trust Fund, to support the equipment and research needs of the Royal’s NICU. Each year my team, RFPB, raises funds for this Trust. We’ve now been going for 7 years – and in that time 1500 people have run on my team and, together, we’ve raised just over $1 million! These funds have provided 26 pieces of life-saving equipment and helped the NICU achieve a ‘best in the State’ level of equipment.
It’s so humbling to think back to how we started and see where we’ve come. It makes me feel very proud of my three little boys and what their lives have achieved.