Lifestyle

Mum walking in memory of son

By Tara Whitsed

With the motto ‘‘Henry couldn’t walk but we can’’, Shepparton’s Jess Holmes will walk 20km in memory of her son who died in 2013.

Joined by friends and family, Ms Holmes will take part in the a2Milk™ Upstream Challenge on Saturday, November 10, to raise funds for children’s charity Very Special Kids, which continues to support her family five years after Henry’s death.

‘‘Our family was beautifully supported by Very Special Kids when Henry was alive and we continue to be through their bereavement program,’’ Ms Holmes said.

‘‘I want to raise funds and awareness, so they can continue to support families like ours.

‘‘It’s really important for our family to give back whenever we can.’’

Henry experienced his first stroke when he was still inside his mother’s womb.

There were no warnings — it just happened.

As time went on many more health issues struck Henry.

Henry died when he was just six years old, on December 19, 2013, after a 19-day battle in hospital with 10 days in the ICU.

‘‘He had this aura about him, he didn’t need words to get people in, the relationships just formed,’’ Ms Holmes said.

One of these relationships included the support from a Very Special Kids family support practitioner, who continues to work with the family.

‘‘I cannot put enough value on having someone there during and afterwards,’’ Ms Holmes said.

‘‘You don’t only lose your child, you lose so much more and the only constant thing has been Very Special Kids.’’

Very Special Kids helps more than 900 families across Victoria who have a child with a life-threatening condition, with ongoing support from diagnosis all the way through to bereavement.

Starting in the Melbourne CBD, Upstream Challenge participants will follow the Yarra River upstream, walking or running 20km of trails to finish at Donvale.

There is also a 50km option.

‘‘To be surrounded by people that want to do good is an awesome feeling,’’ Ms Holmes said.

‘‘Everyone is there because they have been affected in some way by the three charities involved — and for us it’s Very Special Kids.’’

To support Jess Holmes’ fundraising efforts, go to: upstreamfoundation.org/donate/