A remarkable dad who lost his small son to cancer is helping to save the lives of hundreds of other young sufferers a continent away.
During what would have been the fourth year of his son Sacha’s life, Vincent Gauci is running 1,000 kilometres in a series of gruelling marathons and treks to raise money for a World Child Cancer project in Malawi.
So far his friends, family and sponsors have generated around £21,000 – more than half the cost of funding the cash-strapped African child cancer ward for an entire year.
Fun-loving Sacha died in December 2012 from a rare and aggressively cancerous brain tumour. He was just two-years-old,
“Our world stopped spinning... It was a complete bombshell for us,” said Vincent, who is a senior lecturer in the Open University science faculty.
He and his wife Hannah, an associate lecturer at the OU, set up the Sacha Gauci Remembrance Fund, and thought carefully about which charity they would choose to benefit.
“We wanted to help the maximum number of children we could,” said Vincent. “We knew the money we raised would go so much further in a developing nation, so when we heard about the Malawi project, we knew it was right.”
The Malawi cancer unit sees between 200 and 250 children a year, many of them with cancers that are curable.
But money is so tight that staff cannot afford vital drugs to treat them and many children die unnecessarily.
“Without intervention from charity, palliative care in Malawi amounts to little more than paracetamol,” said Vincent, who lives in Stony Stratford.
Just £6 buys pain relief drugs for a Malawi child, while £30 buys life-saving chemotherapy. Just over £150 provides nursing care for 10 children for four weeks and £55 buys two hospital meals a day for six children, for a month.
Vincent, who describes himself as a “typically sedentary office worker” started his 1000km challenge on Sacha’s birthday last June and has already completed 421km.
Over the next few months he is getting ready to run the Milton Keynes Half Marathon and the London Marathon, as well as one of the toughest treks in Europe – 200kms over the spine of Corsica.
You can donate between £1 and £10 to the Sacha Gauci Remembrance Fund by texting SACH80, followed by the amount, to 70070 (for example SACH80 £5).
Donations can also be made online through www.justgiving.com/1000kmforsacha.
Meanwhile Vincent’s progress can be followed on his Facebook page.