Former patient turns fundraiser for obstacle challenge

Rockinghorse supporter Ryan Empringham has challenged himself to take on a muddy obstacle course all in the name of charity!

Ryan, 23, from Newhaven was treated at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton when he was younger. He is taking part in the Nuclear Races Blast obstacle course in Brentwood, Essex, on Saturday 8 September to raise funds and say thank you. Here in his own words, is his story…

“It all started when I was 10-years-old and was rushed to A&E at the old Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) on Dyke Road in Brighton with appendicitis, resulting in keyhole surgery to remove my appendix. Six weeks later, I went for a follow-up appointment and they discovered I had a cyst which was pushing into my stomach and causing me to become very poorly. This meant I needed surgery once again to remove it. I was very well looked after and had lots of follow-up appointments but unfortunately, I was still unwell.

A year later, I was rushed to hospital again with similar symptoms of appendicitis. After a few days of tests, doctors discovered I had peritonitis caused by part of my intestine having twisted and knotted itself. I needed surgery again, following which I spent a few days in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) too. It was at this point that I started to get to know all the staff quite well as I had become a regular patient! That wasn’t the last they saw of me though – I had to have a further operation to have another cyst removed followed by more time in HDU.

That final operation marked the end of all my treatment at the Alex, but even through all of that, I remember being so well cared for by all the staff. My parents were also allowed to stay with me 24/7 which meant so much to all of us and massively helped with my recovery. The doctors and nurses were amazing, and nothing was ever too much trouble for them.

I remember them always going the extra mile to do anything they could to help me during my recovery – whether it was checking up on me, asking how I was, and wheeling an old TV and Playstation across to my hospital bed to keep me happy and entertained. They always made sure they did whatever they could do to help their patients out.

I have decided to take on the challenge of running the Nuclear Races obstacle course on Saturday 8 September in aid of Rockinghorse children’s charity. The run I’m taking part in is called the ‘Blast OCR’, which involves completing as many 5k laps as you can within a two-hour time limit. The course will involve mud, water and 35 tough obstacles to be completed as part of each lap. These include a 20-foot freefall ‘deathslide’, 120 metre gorilla bars, a 15-lane zip-wire and even a four-storey deep underground nuclear bunker!

Rockinghorse is a charity very close to mine and my family’s hearts. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for the funding they provide to the Alex that helped care for me in my childhood. For over 50 years they have been doing everything they can to fund vital medical equipment and support to improve life for sick children in Sussex, and I want to help them to be able to continue their fantastic work.

Whether you’d be kind enough to donate a single amount or are willing to donate an amount per lap I complete, I really appreciate any donation that you are able to give as I know it will go to an amazing cause that will help so many children.”

Huge thanks to Ryan for sharing his story and pictures with us, and best of luck for the race! You can sponsor him here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ryan-empringham.

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