Australia

Running for Toby

TEAM TOBY: Grace Ryan and Margot Downing prepare for the 14 kilometre track. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN

Turning to running to escape from her grief after the death of her third child, Nyngans Margot Downing is now lacing up her runners to take part in the City to Surf and raise money for John Hunter Hospital.

In September last year, Ms Downing, her partner Tom and two children Sophie (4) and Jed (2) faced the unimaginable when their third child Toby Matthew Elder was born.

Due to a placental abruption Toby was delivered by an emergency cesarean, and after it taking doctors several hours to stabilise him at Dubbo Base Hospital, he was transferred by air ambulance to John Hunter Hospital for further care and testing.

Unfortunately, Toby passed away 10 days after he was born.

In the months after Tobys passing Ms Downing turned to running as a mechanism to deal with everyday life.

“I made the choice to start running initially because it was either do that, or sit at home and cry,” Ms Downing said.

“I had no idea how to handle my grief so running allowed me to clear my head, even if only briefly so I could go and play mum to our other kids,” she said.

Now Ms Downing along with 10 others from across New South Wales are putting on their joggers to run 14 kilometres for team Toby in this years City to Surf, raising money for the John Hunter hospital.

“From the moment we arrived at the hospital the staff were so incredibly kind, caring and empathetic. They cried when we cried, they laughed with us when Toby did something cute or funny. The love and care the staff showed for Toby and our other kids was like they were their own,” Ms Downing said.

“The hospital held me as an inpatient so as I could be close to Toby 24 hours, they even allowed Tom to sleep on a mattress next to our bedside.”

“From the head neonatologist, doctors, nursing staff, admin staff, cleaning staff and tech assistants, we could not have asked for better care,” she said.

TEAM TOBY: Grace Ryan and Margot Downing are running to raise money for Sydney's John Hunter hospital. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN

TEAM TOBY: Grace Ryan and Margot Downing are running to raise money for Sydney's John Hunter hospital. Photo: ZAARKACHA MARLAN

Initially Ms Downing set a goal to raise $700, however the campaign reached a staggering $5000 in the first night.

“I keep thanking people, but I can't find the words to properly express how thankful I am to people, because that's just amazing,” Ms Downing said.

“And for people who are obviously doing it tough with the drought, theyre still giving money,” she said.

Ms Downing hopes donating money for the hospital not only raises awareness about the work they do, but will go toward providing more equipment to help other families.

“If the funds raised could be put towards equipment like a ventilator I would be so incredibly happy. However even if it went to something more simple like a recliner chair for the Natal Intensive Care Unit for another family to comfortably enjoy precious cuddles with their newborn then I would still be proud,” Ms Downing said.

Friend and team Toby runner Grace Ryan said while many people never got to meet or know Toby, its been wonderful to see the overwhelming support for Margot and her family.

“The most incredible part of it is everyone saw how much it hurt, and it hurt a lot of people when Toby died, its been incredible how everyone's found a couple of spare bucks to throw in.”

“We are going to need Tobys help to get us up heartbreak hill. Hopefully he can give us a hand,” Miss Ryan said.

Ms Downing said she cant thank everyone from the community enough for their ongoing support.

“Im so grateful, honestly even people who havent donated but wish us luck Im so grateful for it all,” Ms Downing said.

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