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TOFS Awareness Week 2024

Meet our 2024 London Marathon team

We are happy to announce our Team TOFS runners for the 2024 TCS London Marathon.

  • Chris Baker
  • Callum Hillman
  • Kimberley McCarthy
  • Martin Mcnelis
  • Emma-Jane Montgomery
  • Gavin Mountford
  • Zoe Sutton

Please read on to see their stories and consider supporting them via People’s Fundraising.

Meet our runners

Chris Baker

I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to run the 2024 London Marathon in aid of TOFS (Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula Support).

In April 2023 my partner Jade and I welcomed the latest addition to our family. James took us all by surprise, not only because he arrived a month early but also because he was born with a rare condition called Oesophageal Atresia with Tracheo-Oesophageal Fistula (OA/TOF). The condition meant that his oesophagus hadn’t developed properly and rather than extending from his mouth to his stomach, the top portion ended in a pouch in his throat, whilst the lower part had become attached to his trachea. As the seriousness of the situation sank in, we suddenly found ourselves wondering if he would make it through the night.

James underwent surgery at one day old and was kept paralysed in a coma for ten days whilst he recovered from the procedure. We remained in the hospital for two months whilst we gradually built up his oral feeds and the consultants monitored his progress. The entire team at Alder Hey were incredible, from the life-saving surgeons to the nurses that supported us day-in, day-out. They quickly directed us to TOFS as the best place to seek advice and guidance on how best to look after James and build our own knowledge about the condition. TOFS are an amazing charity that work to help those born with OA/TOF live long and healthy lives, and we feel very fortunate to be able to lean on them as we negotiate the challenging years ahead.

I know that times are tough for many at the moment but if you can spare anything at all to help this brilliant charity, and also keep me motivated on my cold, dark training runs this winter, I’d be hugely grateful! Thank you for your support x

Callum Hillman

My name is Callum, I was born with OA/TOF. Having been born four weeks early, very soon after birth it became apparent that something was wrong with my breathing. I was transferred to St George’s Hospital, Tooting, where my parents learned about my condition and I was operated on immediately.

The easiest way to explain OA/TOF is that my food & windpipe didn’t develop fully and when I was born they were fused. This made my first few years difficult. I frequently suffered from chest infections and struggled to eat, spending much of my early life upside down being patted on the back.

TOFS are an amazing charity that has been there for my family since the very beginning. The information and support we have received is invaluable.

Over the years my family have done what we can to raise money and now as I rapidly approach my 30th birthday and wedding day I thought two milestones in a month just wasn’t quite enough… so here I am adding a third into the mix and running the London Marathon! 

It’s one way to get fit 🙂

I’m so excited to represent a charity that means a lot to me and has done so much for my family. Thank you all so much in advance for anything you are able to donate.

Martin Mcnelis

I have been lucky enough to have been chosen to run the London marathon 2024 and will be doing so for the charity TOFS.

This charity means a lot to me as my daughter was born with OA/TOF, 1 in 3500-5000 children are born with this.

I would like to raise as much money as possible for this charity as the charity are run by donations and would also like to help spread awareness.

Gavin Mountford

Our son Freddie was born in May 2022 with OA/TOF as well as a coloboma of the iris in his right eye.

As with many OA/TOF parents, we had no complications throughout the pregnancy and no idea that anything was wrong until moments after he was born.

Those first few minutes of pure joy and relief following Freddie’s birth soon disappeared when we realised there was something seriously wrong.

What followed was the most traumatic period of both mine and my wife Hannah’s lives. In short, Freddie was taken into intensive care, transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital 100 miles away in Oxford and underwent an 8 hour operation on day 2 of his life all followed by a 2 week stay in NICU before being allowed to come home.

Throughout everything, especially that time in Oxford, having the support and resources provided by TOFS made such a difference.

Knowing we weren’t alone in this and being able to learn more about the condition, and what was to come, helped us deal with the situation so much better.

Having had two ACL knee reconstructions in the past, running 26 miles is going to be no walk in the park for me, that’s for sure. But completing The London Marathon has long been an ambition of mine that I’m determined to conquer.

Knowing that any money I raise will go towards sustaining the work TOFS do will fill me with pride and be sure to motivate me through all the tough moments that lay ahead.

Thank you for reading our story,

Zoe Sutton

On Christmas Day 2020 my nephew, Ryuu, was born with OA/TOF.

I’d never heard of the condition and have been surprised at how many babies are born with it and manage associated conditions.

Ryuu is a whirlwind of energy and a true inspiration. I’ve raised money for charities before, but this was different. This was personal. I talked about running for many years and even tried once or twice. I’ve sat and watched the London Marathon only to dream of being able to do it. Telling myself I’ll do it before I’m 50 but never actually ran and never actually applied!

Seeing Ryuu learn to walk with Scoliosis,  at the age of 44 I joined my local running club on their couch to 5K in September 2022. I graduated in December 2022 and was now able to run 5k without stopping. By September 2023 I had run my very first half marathon and my second in October. After each one I wondered how on earth I am going to do that twice…. Well, I am going to find out 😊

I am absolutely delighted to be taking on this challenge for Ryuu and all the other OA/TOFs out there. This one is for you!

Kimberley McCarthy

I feel very privileged to have been accepted to run the London marathon for TOFS.

This charity is very close to my heart as my precious niece Ellie-Mai was born with this condition. It was a very worrying difficult time for all of our close family. Surgery at one day old to repair her oesophagus and trachea was successful but that was just the start of several clinical procedures and difficulties in everyday life for Ellie-mai especially in the early years of her life.

She is now a healthy, gorgeous 17 year old but those difficult early years sometimes seem like yesterday.

Running in the London Marathon for TOFS is a massive personal honour and challenge for me. The support of the local family and friends is really important, cheering me on when I am out doing my runs really encourages me.

My family are very excited to be raising money for this wonderful charity who can now give so much support and advice to families like ours.

I will be extremely grateful for any donations and support you could kindly give.

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