Trio with serious illnesses trekking height of Kilimanjaro for charity which brightens the lives of other sick youngsters

Three young people living with serious illnesses will take on a huge 37-mile trek replicating the height of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise vital funds for a children’s charity that brightens the lives of seriously ill youngsters.

Hannah Phillips, 25, from Lewisham, Joe Lunn, 18, from Mitcham, and Olivia Bradburn, 15, from Teddington have had their own greatest wishes granted by Rays of Sunshine and now want to repay the charity with the trek – on inclined treadmills.

They now aim to raise at least £7,000 with the challenge, to give others the same chance.

Hannah was born prematurely and at less than a year old was diagnosed with an incurable heart disease called Complicated Ebstein’s Anomaly. She underwent open-heart surgery aged nine.

She has had seven operations since, including a pacemaker implantation and has much of her life in hospital. Rays of Sunshine granted Hannah’s greatest wish to meet Jessie J in 2014.

Joe is battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer, metastatic synovial sarcoma, and had surgery in December 2019 to remove all the tumours.

He took on a 100-mile cycle challenge earlier this year and has decided to push himself to take on this second challenge while undergoing a gruelling round of treatment.

Rays of Sunshine granted his greatest wish to meet his sporting idol, Rory McIlroy, last year.

Olivia was born with a rare liver disease called biliary atresia and had a liver transplant at just seven months old.

Since then she has undergone several major surgeries. In 2014, Rays of Sunshine granted Olivia’s wish to meet Winter the dolphin in Florida.

The trio issued a joint statement which said: “The three of us know the true value of a wish and our focus during this huge, but exciting challenge will be to raise as much money as we can so that other children can experience the same happiness and special memories that Rays of Sunshine has given us.”

Jane Sharpe, Trustee of Rays of Sunshine, added: “These three are a true inspiration.

“Between them they have endured the most gruelling of experiences, from undergoing surgery for organ transplants, multiple open heart surgeries and intensive chemotherapy, yet in spite of all of this they are the most positive and determined group of young people.

“We cannot be more grateful to each of them for their unwavering support of Rays of Sunshine, especially during such unprecedented times.

“We have no doubt that they will reach their target and we’re excited to cheer them on every step of the way on their climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Rays of Sunshine brightens the lives of seriously ill children aged three to 18 across the UK by granting their greatest wishes and providing ongoing support within hospitals.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the charity has continued to offer support and its services to seriously ill children when they need it the most.

For more information, click here.

To donate to Hannah, Joe and Olivia’s challenge and support their challenge, visit their JustGiving page here.

Pictured top: Hannah, Joe and Olivia



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