A trio of runners will have a very special determination as they pound the streets on a 10K charity challenge – to keep alive the memories of friend and brother and to help stop others dying from the ticking time bomb that claimed his life.
Johnathan Stuart (29) died at his home in Inverness last year from an undiagnosed heart condition which, his family say, could have been treated and managed if only it had been detected.
His sister and two of his closest friends will run in the River Ness 10K event as part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running on Sunday, September 27, raising funds for a leading heart charity and screening opportunities which could help prevent a similar tragedy striking others.
By running in the 10k together, Johnathan’s sister Selina Laing and friends, brother and sister Lindsay and Calum Cummings, wanted to do something positive to remember him.
Primary school teacher Selina (32), from Inverness, says, “We had no idea that Johnathan had this silent ticking time bomb.
“Knowing that Jonathan’s death may have been preventable, if the condition been previously diagnosed, made the pain of losing him all the worse.
“By running together, we will be raising money through Jonathan’s Gift of Hope fundraising page towards the work of the British Heart Foundation.”
Close family friend, Oxford-based physiotherapist Lindsay (32), says that running in memory of Johnathan has been a great training motivator. She explains: “It will be nice to do this event together as a team and doing this for Jonathan has been a great focus.
“His death came completely out of the blue and it was very difficult to deal with. I’m down in Oxford and since moving away I felt I couldn’t be of much practical help to the family. This is a way of doing something keep Johnathan’s memory alive and show ongoing support while raising funds for important research.”
Johnathan was a videographer and had been working into the small hours editing film clips on his computer when he collapsed and died at home, from what was later revealed as an idiopathic cardiac enlargement. The condition is likely to have caused high blood pressure but Johnathan had enjoyed good health and was rarely at the doctor.
Well known in his native Inverness Johnathan had a long association with the Florians amateur dramatic club, and his family have gifted an annual award in his memory to celebrate upcoming talent.
Johnathan’s sister and friends have different running abilities – Lindsay is a seasoned runner, having completed the London Marathon, her brother Calum (27), a retail manager who lives in Fortrose in the Highlands, has run in a couple of half marathons, but Selina has no previous running experience.
Says Selina, “What hit me hard was that I was his older sister but Johnathan was the one that led an amazing and exciting life. Although I couldn’t run to the end of my road, I thought doing the 10k would really challenge me and help raise money, raise awareness and may help lead to screening.
“The condition can be hereditary, and I will be checked and my two boys will be checked regularly, but in Johnathan’s case, he had no symptoms and the condition killed him.
“His death has completely changed our family – I have lost my only sibling, my parents have lost their child and my children will grow up having never known their uncle. The 10k is something positive to come from this.”His
Lindsay adds, “We’re running together for the first time and it’s nice to be doing this as a team. We’ve known each other so long there’s always been a special bond and this is a way to keep that going, with Jonathan very much in our minds.”
Johnathan’s family set up the Gift of Hope tribute page for donations to the British Heart Foundation. It can be found at http://lastinghope.bhf.org.uk/
The British Heart Foundation says it’s estimated that twelve people under the age of 35 die suddenly from undiagnosed heart conditions each week in the UK.
Kathy McIlwaine, the charity’s Scotland’s fund-raising manager, says, “Johnathan’s family and friends are not just raising vital funds to help us continue our life saving research – they’re also helping to highlight just how devastating heart disease can be when it strikes suddenly and unexpectedly.
“They’ve already done so much to raise funds in Johnathan’s memory. We’re very grateful to them for their dedication and support, and wish them the very best of luck for their 10k.”
Places are available for the River Ness 10k, the Corporate Challenge and the 5k untilSeptember 7 with charity, club and overseas places also available for the Loch Ness Marathon.
The 10k route is a flat course through the historic Highland capital, passing the castle and along the banks of the picturesque River Ness.
The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running comprises the marathon, River Ness 10K, 10K Corporate Challenge and River Ness 5K as well the Wee Nessie fun run for pre-school children.