A grateful dad and his friends have crossed the finish line for sick kids, running 280km in the space of 24 hours, and raising over £4,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, as thanks for his three-month-old daughter’s continued life-saving treatment.

Alex Cookson and running pals Jamie, Anthony, Dave and Phill were already signed up to take on the ContiThunderRun in Derbyshire, to put themselves to the test and see how many laps of a 10k course they could run between them in 24 hours. Little did they know when they registered, they’d be taking it on for such an important and meaningful cause.

Just a couple of months before the group were due to take on the challenge, Alex and his partner, Jas, welcomed a new member of the family - a baby girl named Evie. The pair were elated, especially bringing Evie home for the first time, to be reunited with her older sister, Esmae. Their family felt complete. However, soon after, Alex and Jas began to feel that something was wrong. Evie looked uncomfortable. With her knees tucked into her chest, she began vomiting and wouldn’t feed. Then, the next morning, their world came crashing down as Evie stopped breathing and Alex had to jump into action, performing CPR on his tiny daughter.

It was an agonising wait for the paramedics to arrive, but as they did, Evie thankfully took a breath. She was blue-lighted to her local hospital, where she was given antibiotics as a precaution for sepsis, before a Critical Care ambulance transferred her to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for specialist care.

Doctors worked to try and find the cause of Evie’s illness, while she continued to struggle to keep food down. Her symptoms suggested there was some kind of obstruction, but doctors couldn’t see anything. Doctors call this a Pseudo-Obstruction and, in Evie’s case, it led to multiple bouts of sepsis.

Evie underwent surgery after surgery, each one saving her life and helping her to get strong enough to be transferred from intensive care to the hospital’s High Dependency Unit. Although Evie is happy, stable and growing, she’s still an inpatient at Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she continues to undergo tests to try and reach what may potentially be a diagnosis for a yet unknown condition.

Throughout Evie’s ordeal, Alex’s running friends pulled together to support the family. They pledged to carry on with their challenge and raise funds to say thank you to the hospital, not only for Evie’s life-saving care, but for looking after Alex and Jas too.

Alex said: “No one thinks that their baby will be poorly and when it happens to you, you just feel numb. While we still have a very long way to go before Evie can return home, knowing we are surrounded by such professional, caring, skilled and wonderful people makes all the difference, and we just want to say thank you for that.

“We took on the challenge as the ‘Thunder Buddies’ team - a nod to the film ‘TED’ - and carried a stuffed bear with us on each lap. It gained loads of attention, which meant not only did we raise a huge amount for the hospital, but we raised awareness too.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Seeing their baby girl undergoing so much treatment at such a young age must be truly harrowing for Alex and Jas, but we’re so glad they know our brilliant teams are there for them. Alex channelled his gratitude and passion for our hospital into his running with his friends and the incredible amount they raised will go towards helping us do more for sick kids and families just like theirs.”