A GREAT-grandad who underwent a quadruple heart bypass was given a civic send-off as he began a year-long walk in aid of a Hatton children’s charity.
Tony Cunningham, from Coventry, was seen off in style on New Year’s Day, when he completed the first of 365 daily ten-mile circuits, accompanied by the city’s Lord Mayor and supporters.
He has pledged to walk ten miles a day around Coventry’s War Memorial Park throughout 2022 to raise funds for Molly Olly’s Wishes.
The walking challenge marks a long-awaited return to fitness for the 72-year-old who underwent lifesaving heart surgery four years ago.
And he has even inspired mayor John McNicholas to take up a walking challenge of his own.
Coun McNicholas said: “Tony’s an inspiration, so much so that I’m now doing 10k steps myself everyday!
“My thoughts will be with him,particularly on those difficult days when it’s raining or snowing, but I know he will achieve his target of ten miles a day, every day for a year for Molly Olly’s.”
Tony is further spurred on by the memory of his late wife of 47 years who lost her four-month battle with lung cancer last February.
It is the latest fund-raising challenge for Liverpool-born Tony, who also supported the Alzheimer’s Society six years ago and raised over £1,000 for Cancer Research with a month-long 334-mile walk in the summer.
Tony said: “I’m excited, albeit a little nervous that this challenge is now under way, but people have been stopping me in the park and asking me about my fundraiser, and about the charity. Everyone I’ve met in the park has been encouraging and supportive, as well as my family, friends and social media supporters but the best way to support me is to donate to this wonderful cause.”
Molly Olly’s Wishes was established following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer and marks its tenth anniversary this year.
The charity supports children, with terminal or life-limiting illnesses, and their families by granting wishes, providing emotional support and donating therapeutic toys and books to children.
Rachel said: “I was part of the group cheering Tony off on the morning of New Year’s Day and I felt incredibly humbled that this man – who has faced grief and health challenges himself – has chosen Molly Olly’s as his charity to walk for. We’re with Tony every step of the way and his funds will help so many children with life-threatening health conditions. Thank you Tony for making a difference to their lives.”
Visit www.mollyolly.co.uk for more information on the charity.
Click here to sponsor Tony.