Seven years ago Blake Bellot had never heard of The Stroke Association, but in 2014 his father, Gary Bellot suffered a Brain Haemorrhage and all that changed.
Thankfully Gary has made a full recovery and has taken up the role as Chairman of The Stroke Association.
Blake has decided to help raise awareness and is running a half marathon, with all money raised going to the charity itself.
Dan Andrade caught up with Blake to speak about the fundraiser and his dad’s journey.
When did first thing of the idea of doing the half marathon?
It was only actually around four weeks ago! I was talking to my dad about possible fundraisers I could do to support the charity in the near future and he informed me about up and coming events, he mentioned the Christmas fun run that they do every year where you pick your distance from anything between a 5km and a marathon. So I thought I wanted to get involved in that as quickly as possible and put together a Just Giving fundraising page for the charity.
Will this be your first half marathon?
Yeah, first half marathon! I have never really been much of a runner to be honest so when I started training it was a bit of a shock to the system even getting 5km in the bag! It will be the longest run I have ever done but I have goals to hopefully progress onto a marathon and hope to keep running as much as possible.
What is The Stroke Association, and why are you so close to that charity?
Prior to 2014, Strokes and The Stroke Association were somewhat alien to me. When my dad had a stroke in 2014 it hit home how serious a stroke can be and how it can affect anyone. My dad had no real underlying conditions, no links to strokes in the past. It really was a random event and before that you have no real knowledge of how it can affect you. Since then my dad has been quite involved with the charity, helping those who have been through a stroke and I have tried to educate myself as much as possible on strokes and over the last couple of months I have looked to get more involved in the charity to do my best to help others who may have experienced the same thing that my dad did and also help support their families as it is quite hard to deal with such events.
How has the journey been for your dad, and also for you?
He has made a full recovery. Obviously he feels the affects of having a stroke from time to time but generally he is back to full health and back to the old person that we knew and loved before he had the stroke. It affected him massively and the journey was long and hard for him more than anyone. It was very difficult for us as a family and friends close to him as well. It was a shock to the system for everyone. When it happened in 2014 I was sat in the sixth form common room at school and had a phone call to say that dad had collapsed and that he had been rushed to hospital in London and within the space of a few hours we had left school, flown over to London and were told that there was quite a high chance that dad could die within the next 48 hours. It was really difficult. From then the journey for himself was tough and long. He had to rebuild his life and learn how to move again but he has always been quite a strong character and he came through it, quicker than expected too. He was back in Jersey within a couple of months recovering through the Jersey hospital. It was a difficult road for him and us. The support from the family, his friends and the charity was phenomenal.
How much of an inspiration are the stroke survivors, like your dad, going to be when you’re doing your half marathon?
They will be massive inspirations. It is the main reason I am doing it. It will be difficult getting through a half marathon for the first time but when I look back at my dad’s journey and the obstacles that he faced and how tough it was for him to recover, along with other stroke survivors and what they have been through and are going through currently, running a half marathon is nothing in comparison. Hopefully I can raise as much money as I can for the charity, too.
How has the training gone?
It has been a case of throwing myself in the deep end to try and get as many miles under my belt as I could, whilst trying to get as fit as possible. I went online to look for good short term training plans for half marathons and I have been running every day, be that long runs, sprints or tempo work just to try and get my fitness up and build up my endurance. Hopefully it all goes to plan on the day!
Do you have a target, time wise and fundraising wise?
At the start I just wanted to get it done, but now I am aiming and would be very happy with around 1 hour 40/50 minutes but it is more about raising funds and awareness, and making sure I complete the run, and to support the charity. Any support and any donation is massively appreciated. Initially in terms of fundraising targets I set one for £200 but it has so far reached £1,170 which is amazing. I didn’t expect it to get the response that I has and I am so thankful to all who have donated. It does go a long way.
We would like to wish Blake all the best for his Half Marathon tomorrow. If you would like to donate, find the fundraising page through this link: Blake Bellot is fundraising for Stroke Association (justgiving.com)