A Newcastle lawyer has smashed his fundraising target for the North East baby charity that supported his family when his daughter was born after just 25 weeks’ gestation after conquering Africa’s highest mountain.
Jan Rzedzian, an Associate Solicitor with Hay & Kilner Law Firm in Newcastle, has completed a challenging trek to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as part of a fundraising drive for the Tiny Lives Trust.
Jan, from Whitley Bay, had originally hoped to raise £1,000 for the Trust – but the actual total has already reached £3,285, with more money expected to come in now that he’s returned home.
Having originally been due in December, Jan and his wife Katie’s daughter, Anya, was born extremely prematurely last September at the RVI in Newcastle.
She spent three months on the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, which is supported by the Tiny Lives Trust, as its specialist teams worked to help meet her complex and extensive medical needs, while the charity and the hospital team provided Katie and Jan with a range of practical and emotional support, advice and guidance.
After making excellent progress, Anya was eventually able to go home with Mum, Dad and three year-old big brother Richard, and is receiving a range of assistance to support her continuing development.
Jan’s trek involved around 68 kilometres of walking and almost 6,000 meters of climbing. The final assault on the summit began at midnight and involved over 16 kilometres of walking and 1,100m of climbing through a 20-hour day.
He says: “Climbing Kilimanjaro turned out to be a real challenge in every imaginable way – temperatures of minus ten Celsius don’t sound too bad, but the lack of oxygen near the top of the mountain greatly exaggerates their impact to the point that, even when I was back in the UK, I was still waiting to get the feeling back in some of my fingers and toes!
“We had to be up at 11pm on the day before we were aiming for the summit to prepare for a midnight departure and making it up those last few hundred metres to the top was incredibly hard, but the thought of the impact that the money we were raising would have for families like ours really helped to keep me going.
“The weather at the summit was beautiful and the unforgettable views made the hours of slog to get there more than worthwhile.
“Tiny Lives helped us in a huge range of practical ways that made a massive difference through Anya’s first few months and this is a great way for Katie, Richard and I to say thank you to all those who supported us since her early arrival.
“The support we’ve had from so many sponsors has been amazing and we’re really grateful to everyone who’s made a donation.”
The Tiny Lives Trust, which is Hay & Kilner Law Firm’s charity of the year, helps to care for up to 800 premature and sick newborn babies and their families each year and works to support the Newcastle RVI Neonatal Service, which cares for babies from across the North East and Cumbria.
Louise Carroll, community and events fundraiser at the Tiny Lives Trust, adds: “We are lucky to have wonderful supporters such as Jan, as well as corporate supporters such as Hay & Kilner, who raise the vital funds needed to help us continue to support vulnerable babies and their families.”
To donate to Jan’s fundraising for The Tiny Lives Trust, click here.