Marathon charity run for Ryan

Helen Kirk with Ryan Smith, of Chapel St Leonards.
Helen Kirk with Ryan Smith, of Chapel St Leonards.

More than £1,000 has been presented to a cause set up in the name of a young disabled man from Chapel St Leonards after a marathon fundraiser.

Helen Kirk, 42, of Brothertoft, near Boston, raised the sum – £1,122, in all – for the Ryan Smith Foundation by running her third London Marathon.

Helen, who only ran her first marathon anywhere in 2014, completed the 26.2-mile challenge in April in a time of 4hrs 37 mins and collected the sum in the month or so that followed.

The Ryan Smith Foundation raises money to assist people affected by brain injuries and promote cycle helmet safety awareness.

It was set up by Ryan Smith, 20, of Chapel St Leonards, and his family after Ryan suffered severe brain injuries in a cycling accident in 2013. He was not wearing a helmet.

Helen works with Ryan one-to-one at Boston College in a learner support role.

She said she was ‘really chuffed’ with the amount she raised, especially in light of how for the third time in four years she was asking family, friends, and colleagues for donations in support of a marathon run.

“People were really generous,” she said. “They donated even though it was the third time I was doing it.”

Previously Helen had run for the cholesterol charity Heart UK and then for Cancer Research UK.

Of this latest cause, she said: “You see so many children without helmets – and parents without helmets – and I still think there’s a massive need to educate.”

She said Ryan helped inspire her over the finishing line on the day, paying tribute to his character.

“He is just so positive,” she said. “He loves life. He’s eager to learn and achieve and just so optimistic and very funny,” she said.

Of Ryan’s reaction to her achievement, she said: “He was impressed. He said I did really well.”

Ryan’s father Mark Smith, 47, offered ‘huge thanks, massive thanks’ to Helen for her marathon effort.

“We are really, really proud of her and congratulate her on her efforts,” he said.

“What she did was brilliant,” he added.

The money will help fund Ryan’s ongoing care, which Mark says benefits not just Ryan but also family members who support him.

“His Mum (Julie) and sister (Rachael) work tirelessly with him,” he said.

The funds will also contribute to the foundation’s cycle safety work, he said, saying it represents ‘more lids on kids’.

For more on the Ryan Smith Foundation, search for it on Facebook.