A nursery nurse whose father died unexpectedly from a heart attack will run the London Marathon next Sunday in his memory.
Hannah Evans, 24, from Carmarthen, Wales, is raising money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) following the death of her father, Stephen Evans, in 2010.
Mr Evans, who was 59, had no previous diagnosis of heart disease so his death came as a great shock to Hannah and her two sisters.
Hannah’s mother, sister and uncle were later diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition which makes the heart muscle walls become stretched and thin and can be life-threatening if left untreated.
The family suffered a further tragedy when Hannah’s mother Gwyneth died earlier this year, aged just 53, from lung cancer.
Hannah, who will run with her brother-in-law Mike Drakeford, 34, from Penygroes, Gwynedd, hopes their fundraising will prevent other families suffering the devastating losses.
“We were heartbroken when my dad died. He was just such an amazing person who would do anything for anyone,” she said.
“It’s so cruel that for someone like him, so fit and active with no history of heart disease, could die from a heart attack.
“Then to lose my mum this year was completely devastating.
“It’s not something that you expect to happen to you, to lose both parents before your 25th birthday.
“To not have had the opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one is the worst feeling.
“I miss my parents so much, every day. I know they will have wanted me to keep going.
“Heart and circulatory diseases have harmed so many families like mine and I want to play my part in putting a stop to that.”
Hannah has tested negative for dilated cardiomyopathy so far.
Mike’s wife Rebecca, 34, who is Hannah’s oldest sister, has also been screened and has shown no signs of cardiomyopathy but their younger sister Laura Davies, 31, has dilated cardiomyopathy.
Hannah and Mike have already raised more than £3,500 for the BHF, which is the TCS London Marathon’s charity of the year for the October 2 event, including by taking part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon in 2018, 2020 and 2021.
“I’ve been part of the family for over 16 years now and I’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact that heart disease can have on people,” said Mike, who works as a data protection officer.
“Hannah is truly inspiring in her determination to keep going and I share her passion for wanting to help prevent other families from going through what we’ve been through. Stephen and Gwyneth would be so proud of her.
“The work that the BHF is doing is shining a light for people who are searching for hope, so we’re doing as much as we can to support their amazing research.”
The BHF hopes its team of marathon runners will raise more than £3 million for regenerative medicine, a cutting-edge field of research which could unlock a cure for heart failure.
BHF events manager Lizzie Moscardini said: “Hannah’s strength and bravery in taking on the TCS London Marathon for the British Heart Foundation so soon after family tragedy, is remarkable.
“After everything she and Mike have been through, it is so inspiring to hear how passionate they both are about helping the BHF make a difference.”
– To sponsor Hannah visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mike-hannah-marathon