Lisa Chaytor, Fitmums
We lost our niece at 17 days old in Feb 2015 due to severe heart defects. She was born in Leeds Children's Hospital and in her short 17 days she had multiple major heart surgeries. When she died, I pledged she would not die in vain and she will be remembered.
I challenged myself (and my partner) to run the Hull 10k 4 months later in June 2015 and the sponsor money would go to Leeds Children's Hospital. The first time I ran on a treadmill (March 2015) I lasted 2 minutes and thought oh no, what have I done!
I didn't give up though, I found the Couch to 5K (C25K) app and started with that and was making good progress but still struggling. Then a friend told me about Fitmums & Friends, so I went along, loved it and carried on. The support and motivation they gave me made a real difference.
I ran the Hull 10k in June 2015, and finished in 63 minutes without stopping once! We raised just over £1000 for the Leeds PICU. We now do it each year in my niece's memory and have her name and age engraved on the medal each year.
After the Hull 10K I began volunteering as a run leader and completed my Leadership in Running Fitness qualification. Shortly after that I decided to join the cycling side of the club. I was a bit apprehensive because I tried cycling 3 miles to work and on both occasions, I couldn't make it all the way and had to walk the last half mile.
I was encouraged to join one of the cycle rides in June 2016 and I rode 25 miles on my first ride out. I would never have challenged myself to go that far without the support. This really gave me a boost of confidence and so I continued to go out with the FMCS every Sunday morning and after only 6 weeks of riding, I joined the cycle squad on the 3 day Coast to Coast charity ride from Morecambe to Bridlington.
I love everything that Fitmums represents, and it feels like family, everyone helps and pushes each other. I wanted to be able to say thank you for the support and to be able to support and encourage people myself. I began volunteering as a ride leader taking groups of riders out
The health benefits of volunteering in sport are great. The social side is fantastic too and I've made some new friends from both running and cycling. Sometimes it can be time consuming, especially the cycling and sometimes and I have to prioritise, but most of all, I enjoy it!
I love encouraging people to challenge themselves. It's great when they run a distance for the first time thinking they can't do it. Then when they get to the end and find they've done a little more than they thought they could… and feel great!
Volunteering is great. It makes me feel very positive and gives me a great sense of achievement. If I'm not in the mood to run or if the weather is bad. If I am leading I must go as there are people depending on me and I would hate to let them down.