Dress up to have fun for charity

Madi Balaam, 14, is going to be the focus of an article introducing this year's Santa Run for EACH which Madi has attended for the last 10 years.
Madi Balaam, 14, is going to be the focus of an article introducing this year's Santa Run for EACH which Madi has attended for the last 10 years.
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Last year’s Santa Run brought tears to the eyes of a mother who watched as strangers generously supported the charity which offers a lifeline to her family.

Every year hundreds of people take to the streets of Bury St Edmunds, dressed in red Santa suits and hats, to raise funds for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each).

Parents Sharon and Adrian Balaam, from Ingham, know first hand how important money raised through fund-raisers like the Santa Run is in helping families like theirs who rely on the services and support of Each.

Their 14-year-old daughter, Madi, requires specialist care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and for the last 10 years Each has assisted them with providing that through its hospice in Milton, Cambridge.

Sharon, who saw the Santa Run last year, said: “I was in town with my oldest boy as they were setting off.

“Seeing them all dressed up, I thought ‘you’re doing an amazing thing and so many of you have no idea what a difference you make to people like us’. I just couldn’t help but cry.”

Madi has been diagnosed with a number of conditions, including Noonan’s Syndrome, epilepsy, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

She also has two heart conditions, is gastrostomy fed and has endured pneumonia, a collapsed lung, two heart attacks, septicaemia and MRSA.

The hospice is able to care for her overnight, allowing her parents to spend time ‘quality time’ with each other and with her siblings, Toby, 19, Noah, five, and Connie, three.

Sharon, 43, said: “It’s the only time my husband and I can really spend together as one of us always has to be with Madi.

“She sleeps in the same room as us as she has epilepsy and we need to monitor her.

“She is fed overnight, doesn’t sleep very well and is often up at 4am. Overnight care means we can have a good nights’ sleep.

She added: “Regular things like going to the supermarket or visiting the park are impossible with Madi as she struggles in the company of other people and gets very upset. We can do these things, which many take for granted, when Madi goes to the hospice.”

The Santa Run will take place in Bury St Edmunds at 10am on November 25.

It costs £10, including Santa suite, £8 without. Under 13s pay £5 with Santa hat. Pick up a registration form in the Bury Free Press office in King’s Road, Bury, or go to

www.each.org.uk/events