When Teresa Stonestreet’s great niece Sarah Watkin very sadly passed away in 2014 at the age of seven, after a two-year battle with leukemia, Teresa set herself an incredible challenge. For every year that Sarah had been alive, her great aunt would ‘march through March’, walking a minimum of 10,000 steps per day during the month of March every year for seven years, in aid of Cancer Research UK.
“I intend to raise money for every year that Sarah walked this planet,” explains Teresa, who is the Librarian and Examinations Officer at Farlington School on the outskirts of Horsham. “I walk in memory of Sarah, in my own little tribute to such a beautiful soul.”
A huge Justin Bieber fan who also loved gymnastics, art and playing in the mud, Sarah lived with her family in Canada. She was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer that affects bone marrow and blood cells, in 2012. She spent months at a time at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where she underwent radiation, chemotherapy, and blood and platelet transfusions. Despite a desperate search for a bone-marrow match, Sarah was given a terminal diagnosis in June 2014 and passed away in October of that same year.
“I do what I can from this side of the pond,” says Teresa, who is currently covering the equivalent of five miles per day in memory of her great niece. “Every step I take is for Sarah.”
By the end of this month, Teresa will have walked more than 930 miles in total, and over the past six years has raised around £4,000 for Cancer Research UK. You can view the fundraising page here.
After Sarah’s diagnosis, her parents, Leah and Mark Watkin, set up the foundation ‘Sarah’s Drive for Hope‘, to raise awareness of childhood cancers and stem cell/blood donation. They have campaigned tirelessly since losing Sarah, making regular television appearances and keeping their daughter’s memory alive.
“Sarah impacted everyone she met, and lots that she didn’t,” says Teresa. “Leah and Mark must be so proud to have brought such a beautiful daughter into this world. Rest in peace, sweet Sarah.”