Woman takes on mighty challenge to honour mum who supported the homeless
After her mother gave up her own bed for homeless families in need, a Preston woman has raised more than £2,000 for charities in lockdown - and is determined to keep going in her mum's honour.
Ramona Joy Mulligan, who is originally from California but now lives in Clayton-Le-Woods, was determined to complete a 'mighty challenge' over 100 days to raise money for causes close to her heart.
Now the 53-year-old will reach the end of her milestone this Sunday, October 3, when she completes the London virtual marathon, the final step in her challenge.
She had taken up running around Cuerden Valley Park every day in lockdown when she was among the first forced to work from home last March, as her diabetes made her more vulnerable to Covid-19.
Her efforts have already surpassed £2,000 for the Shelter charity, which helps provide support to the homeless across Lancashire, but she is continuing to raise funds.
Ramona took on the challenging feats in memory of her mum Verna, who had been a 'huge inspiration' to her growing up and had supported many homeless families through her work with the church, including letting them sleep in her own bed and cooking them hot meals in times of need.
She was beside her mother when she passed away in hospice care and relied on exercise to pull her through her grief.
She said: "We had grown up quite a poor family and my mother had been single for 10 years but did such an amazing job bringing up me and my sister. We were strongly connected with the church and my mother was always lifting people up when they were down.
"She always offered people a place to stay and on one occasion, I remember her giving up her own bedroom to a whole family who needed somewhere warm to sleep.
"We did struggle but always had a roof over her head and my mother always wanted to help others. I will never forget her kindness even though we didn't have much ourselves."
Having struggled with anxiety and depression following the tragic loss of her mum at the start of the pandemic, Ramona began running every day to help support her mental health.
She had previously been a keen runner with Park Run and had planned to run the Great Manchester Marathon for Shelter, but with all events cancelled due to Covid-19, she took it on herself to make a difference and start raising funds by running 100 park runs in 100 days.
This soon went on for a year and went on to span over 500 days.
Her employer, Preston recruitment company Adecco, then challenged staff to take on a 'mighty challenge' for their chosen charity Shelter, over a period of 100 days.
She has also supported Diabetes UK with funds raised over the past 18 months and is a Diabetes Voice Ambassador who has been awarded a Regional Inspire award by the charity.
So far, the 53-year-old mum has climbed Mount Snowdon with colleagues, swam the length of the English Channel and cycled 120 miles, the distance from Dundee to Fort William.
And she also delivered food parcels to vulnerable families in lockdown through her membership with the Red Rose Runners.
This Sunday she hopes to complete the virtual London Marathon by running along the Preston Guild Wheel to wrap up 100 days of challenges.
She added: "I have always been involved in fundraising and have supported charities such as Macmillan and the Make a Wish Foundation.
"I knew there was something positive I could do in the lockdown and running had started to really help me with my anxiety and bereavement.
"After this milestone on Sunday, I will have completed my mighty challenge. I have already raised thousands, but it is important we keep raising money and awareness, which is often the hardest part of all this.
"It was so important that I could do something to help the community around me and it has given me so much fulfillment and joy.
"A home is a fundamental human need and a basic moral right, as vital as education or healthcare. 3,500 people sleep on the streets on any given night and 113,000 households are stuck in temporary accommodation, such as homeless hostels.
"We are partnering with Shelter to help get people who have been affected by homelessness back into work and support the charity which helps get a roof over people's heads."