Left: Alanna O'Shaughnessy, was born premature, suffered four strokes before her second birthday. Right, her grandmother Patsy Holt is running her first marathon at 72, to raise money for Starship Children's Hospital and the Young Stroke Thrivers Foundation (Photos: supplied).

Why a pensioner is running a marathon for her granddaughter

Patsy Holt’s granddaughter may be tiny like a mouse but she has the courage of a lion – and she’s the reason the 73-year-old grandmother is running her first ever marathon. As part of our series celebrating the amazing things young New Zealanders do every day, brought to you by our friends at Flick, Angela Cuming meets Alanna O’Shaughnessy and her grandma.

Ask Auckland grandmother Patsy Holt – ”Gigi” to her family – what she would do for her grandchildren and she is very matter of fact about it.

”I would do anything for them,” she says.

Believe it, because in May a determined Gigi, 73, will be running her first marathon, all 42 kilometres of it, for her two-year-old granddaughter, Mousie.

Alanna O’Shaughnessy, dubbed ”Mighty Mouse” when she was born premature, and suffered four strokes before her second birthday. Gigi will run the marathon to raise money for the Starship Children’s Hospital and the Young Stroke Thrivers Foundation.

”I will do it even if I have to crawl over the finish line,” Gigi says. ”Starship has been amazing not only to Mousie but to rest of the family and I wanted to say thank you to them.”

”I also wanted to raise funds to support and empower other children who have had strokes through Young Stroke Thrivers Foundation.”

Training is ”going well” despite two slipped discs that have restricted her running.

It has been tough but I just keep thinking of what Mousie has been through and how raising funds can help other children and their families.”

Patsy Holt is running her first marathon at 72, to raise money for Starship Children’s Hospital and the Young Stroke Thrivers Foundation (Photo: supplied).

For mum Lucianne, watching her little girl suffer strokes was almost beyond belief. It wasn’t something she thought could affect her baby.

”We thought strokes happened to adults, to older people,” she says. ”So when we were told this is what Mousie has suffered we couldn’t comprehend what had happened and why. We now know that strokes can happen to anyone at any time, including teenagers, children, newborns and unborn babies. The risk of a stroke from birth to age 18 is 11 per 100,000 children each year.”

Mousie is the family’s ”warrior”, her mum says. The strokes have meant a number of hospital visits, operations, MRI scans, when she was very young. As she’s got older, and spent less time at hospital, she’s grown into a happy toddler who’s full of energy.

”When children face illness or other struggles, with love and support, they display mind blowing levels of resilience and courage with smiles to melt your heart.”

The family will never forget the doctors and nurses that saved her daughter’s life. It’s those people that mean Mousie is here as a daughter, as a little sister, as a granddaughter, and a friend.

”I can only say Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and hope that the funds we raise help other children and families affected by strokes.”

The family has set up a Givealittle page for donations for the stroke foundation and the Starship Foundation.

Alanna O’Shaughnessy and her grandma Patsy Holt.

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