Best foot forward for local dad taking on Leeds Half Marathon to raise funds for Wheatfields Hospice
A new dad who admits the only time he has ever ran is for "last orders at the bar" is taking on Leeds Half Marathon to raise money for Wheatfields Hospice.
Luke Sollitt's father, James, is receiving palliative care and has just months, if not weeks, to live after prostate cancer spread to his bones before advancing rapidly.
However, the family say they want to give something back to the Sue Ryder organisation which has helped arrange nursing care at home but also practical arrangements that the family had not thought about.
As well as making sure that James could go back to his Horsforth home, the team at Wheatfields in Headingley have given financial help and guidance.
This is despite Wheatfields, and the city's other hospices, being crippled financially due to the pandemic and the cancellation of thousands of fundraising activities which are vital to the hospices just being able to open their doors on a morning.
It costs Wheatfields in the region of £3.8m a year, or £10,500 per day, to run its services to the families of Leeds, meanwhile, St Gemma's Hospice based at Moortown, estimates that it lost £1.4m just from its charity shops being closed during lockdown and £250,000 from planned fundraising events which had to be cancelled.
Mr Sollitt, aged 33, of Guiseley said: "I raised money for Wheatfields many moons ago but never thought, this summer, I would need their services. When my dad was in hospital we knew he had cancer which was prostate it spread to his bones and the prostate cancer advanced. We got the call he had six weeks to three months."
Wheatfields made care arrangements so that Mr Sollitt senior could go home and put the family in touch with the Free Will Network, as he hadn't written one, and helped them get financial issues in order.
Mr Sollitt added: "We are trying to be positive and he is over the moon I am doing this. It is not about my 15 minutes of fame, it is for the charity. They have given so much, not just for my family but others as well."
The Leeds Half Marathon takes place on Sunday September 5 and is a 13 mile route from just outside Millennium Square, and in a slight alteration to previous years, will go to Horsforth and finish on Kirkstall Road near the ITV studios.
Mr Sollitt is starting his running career from scratch for the fundraiser and has already surpassed what he thought he might make.
He said: "The only time I have ever ran is for last orders at the bar. When I signed up I didn't know the miles until a friend told me. The Nike app says you have 14 weeks to train but I have six. I started a 5k training programme and felt refreshed afterwards. I never thought I would feel like that from running. The next day I pushed it and ran to Horsforth.
"I never thought I would have much support and might get a few hundred quid but thought I will put a target out there on Just Giving and people can see that I am trying. Within six days I had £700 and my work emailed me and said they would donate £500.
"My wife says I have 'all the gear and no idea' but if I pull this off, bearing in mind I have never done anything like this before, I will keep it up."