Just over 100 people took part in a sponsored 5k, 10k or half marathon walk/run for Shereen Simms, 32, who suffered a sudden brain haemorrhage in January, on Sunday, September 19, with participants crossing the finish line at Tilgate Park.
But the event, which was held just a day before Shereen’s birthday, was not just confined to Crawley. Just under 200 people in total from around the globe took part in the fundraiser for the mother-of-two.
Since the event, the fundraiser on GoFundMe has raised over £24,000 - almost halfway to the target of £50,000.
Money raised will be used to help Shereen’s rehabilitation. The brain injury, which has a survival rate of less than 0.4 per cent, has left Shereen unable to walk and talk, and in need of rehabilitation to the left side of her body.
Shereen’s sister, Shannaz Noormohamed, said: “We’re really overwhelmed. It’s amazing, the community in Crawley.
“People from across the world have reached out and have helped us so we can get Shereen the rehab that she needs to get her looking after her children.”
Shereen, who suffered the life-altering haemorrhage just nine weeks after having her second daughter, Maliyah, has been recuperating at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in Putney.
But Shereen returned to her family home in Langley Green a fortnight ago, and was reunited with her two daughters after eight months apart.
Friends, family and neighbours lined the streets to welcome Shereen back, and Shannaz said the heartwarming moment exemplified Crawley’s community spirit.
She added: “I think we’re really lucky in Crawley. Crawley gets a lot of stick, but I think there is a great community spirit.
“It does get overlooked from time to time, but in times like this you really do see people come together and see how great the community really is.
“People who don’t know Shereen participated in the race and sent their best wishes.
“People really do come together in times of need. I don’t think that should be overlooked.”
Since Shereen’s return, the family have had to help her undertake her rehab.
Shannaz said that this was a difficult process, but her sister was showing signs of ‘massive improvement’.
She said: “She’s much better now that she’s at home. We’ve seen massive improvements with her fatigue, she’s eating more, she’s communicating more in general, she’s starting to use her voice again.
“At the moment we’re doing her rehab ourselves, from what we’ve learned from Shereen being at the hospital. We’re doing as much as we can while we wait.
“It’s difficult, but it’s something that has to be done. It’s hard work, but it is what it is.
“We know what the end result is going to be. No one is to blame in particular, it’s just the funding isn’t there for the local resources.
“The community waiting list is quite a long time, which is why we are raising the funds to get Shereen into rehab quicker.
“The optimum time for recovery is the first year, and we’re coming very close to that year since Shereen had the stroke, so we need to get on it ASAP.”
And, after the success of the sponsored run, Shannaz said there were plenty more fundraisers planned for the future.
She added: “We’ve got a few ideas in the pipeline. There’s a coffee morning fun day this Saturday , at Three Bridges scout hut. That’s from 10 am until 4pm. We’re going to have a bouncy castle, and tea, coffee and cakes for sale. We’ve got a few stalls with different kinds of gifts, we’ve got a tombola, a raffle, and for lunch we’ve got homemade curry.
“We’ve also got a Christmas event coming up around December 15, but that’s not been confirmed.
“We’re going to have a grotto, a raffle, some Christmas stalls, like a Christmas market, so people can get some last minute gifts in.
“We’ve got the raffle draw for my shop. I alter wedding dresses, and I’ve offered all my brides the chance to win their alterations for free. They just have to enter the raffle, which will be on November 15.
“There’s a lot of things we’re planning next year as well, just to keep the momentum going, keep up the awareness of what has happened and make sure Shereen can get all the rehab that she needs.”
To donate to the fundraiser for Shereen, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/for-shereen-and-her-family