Jake Whiteside, 16, a former Notley High School pupil, from Braintree in Essex, sadly passed away in April 2017 after being diagnosed with a brain tumour the previous summer.
Now his dad, Richard Whiteside, will be pulling on his walking boots for the 65-mile (100 km) trek, along with a 14-strong team of family and friends, navigating their way around the entire coastline of The Isle of Wight.
The walkers, who call themselves ‘Team JAWS’ (Jake’s Army of Walkers), will be raising vital funds for CLIC Sargent, the charity which supported Jake and his family through his gruelling treatment.
Their challenge is expected to take the group an exhausting 24-hours, walking continuously around-the-clock.
Mum, Mel Whiteside, 47, who will be part of the support team throughout the challenge, said:
“Jake was a wonderfully cheerful young man who had an infectious character and a cheeky smile that all of those who met him will remember. He handled his diagnosis in a manner that belied his age and remained positive throughout his illness.”
Dad, Richard Whiteside, 46, added: “From the moment we met the CLIC Sargent social worker, Urvashi, based at University College London Hospital (UCLH), she was kind, helpful and very supportive.
“She struck up an instant rapport with Jake (probably helped by the gift bag she arrived with on her first visit!). She was easy to talk to and helped us to complete forms for financial support, grants, and to find a way to purchase an electric wheelchair. Without her help, this would not have happened.
“Being able to stay at CLIC Sargent’s Paul’s House, just a few minutes away from Jake’s hospital, enabled us to be together as a family of four. We were also able to use the house for Jake to socialise in a relaxing environment with his family and friends when they came up to London to visit him. It was so nice for him to get out of the ward and just be a normal teenager with his mates.
“Because of this help we received from CLIC Sargent, we decided to raise funds for the charity so we can give something back for the support we received.”
Jake was an active 15-year-old when he was diagnosed with a tumour in his spinal cord in July 2016.
Despite having surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital that year, before spending the next five months undergoing radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and rehabilitation, sadly in April 2017, tests revealed that further tumours had formed. Tragically, Jake passed away at home six days after receiving this news.
CLIC Sargent provided Jake and his family with support, including the use of Paul’s House - a CLIC Sargent Homes from Home, which is adjacent to University College London Hospital (UCLH).
CLIC Sargent runs a network of Homes from Home, which provide accommodation and a calm haven for families to stay at while their children undergo treatment, helping families spend more time together and ease the financial burden of travel costs.
So far Team JAWS has raised over £15,000 for CLIC Sargent.
Emma Macdonald, Sports & Challenge Events Manager at CLIC Sargent, said: “When cancer strikes young lives we fight tirelessly to limit the damage it causes beyond their health.
We rely entirely on donations to fund our vital work and so we can’t thank Richard, Mel and Team JAWS enough for their fantastic efforts.”
To support Team JAWS go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jawstakeontheiow
To find out more about CLIC Sargent’s work go to www.clicsargent.org.uk