Brothers to put on running shoes in sister’s memory

Gary Gleeson with his sister Laura
Gary Gleeson with his sister Laura

The sudden death of his younger sister has inspired a South Tyneside man to hit the road in aid of charity.

Gary Gleeson is preparing to take part in the Great North Run in September in memory of his sister Laura.

She never let her heart problems beat or control her.

Gary Gleeson

Laura, 31, was born with tricuspid atresia - meaning she only had three chambers in her heart instead of four - and died after suffering a heart attack, last April.

Gary, head of training at IU Consult took part in the race from Newcastle to South Shieldcs for the first time last year, will be joined this year by his younger brother Jon.

His family will also be travelling from his native Ireland to support the two brothers.

Mr Gleeson, 38, who moved to South Tyneside from Ireland 12 years ago will be raising funds for the British Heart Foundation.

He said: “Laura was born with a heart defect and during her lifetime she underwent 17 operations. She was told she would need a heart and lung transplant.

“Because she was so weak, if she had survive that, she would have required intensive care for up to two years.

“She had decided against the transplant as she didn’t want to give up all the things she loved.

“She felt that, to do that, wouldn’t have given her much of a life and never wanted to run a marathon anyway.

“I’ll be wearing those words on my t-shirt as a nod to her legacy.”

He added: “Laura was a wonderful person. She loved and lived every day to its fullest.

“She was very determined and never let her heart problems beat or control her. In the end Laura went on her terms.”

Mr Gleeson has chosen the British Heart Foundation after the charity has supported Laura and the family.

He added: “Work has been really supportive and I am hoping to improve on the time I did last year.

“Last year was tough but Laura was with me every step of the way and I’m sure she will be with us both this year.”

The BHF is calling for people to sign up now, to help power ground-breaking heart research. General entries for the 2017 event are now closed, but places are still available to join the BHF’s team of Heart Runners and those who have signed up already can still choose to raise funds for the BHF.

Helen Wright, Heart Runners Manager, said: “Heart disease is heartless, it can affect anyone at any age without warning and research is the best weapon we have to fight it. By taking on the Great North Run for the BHF, Gary is helping bring us a step closer to beating heart disease for good so we are incredibly grateful for his support.

“I’d urge more people to join our fight for every heartbeat and become one of our runners at the iconic Great North Run. Every pound raised will help make a difference to people’s lives.”   

To sign up as a BHF Heart Runner at this year’s Great North Run visit www.bhf.org.uk/get-involved/events/runs/great-north- run