A CYCLIST who raced 3000 miles across America in just nine days is now inspiring children in their recovery from major surgery.
Katie Ford’s Olympic torch, which she carried ahead of the London games in 2012, was installed at the Sick Kids to encourage youngsters to walk the length of corridor after getting back on their feet following operations.
She has now visited the torch, met staff and patients and presented a cheque to pay for a display cabinet.
The 29-year-old ultra-marathon rider suffered seizures as a youngster and spent five years in and out of the hospital. She then – at the age of 14 – underwent life-changing surgery using equipment funded by the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.
The video telemetry equipment was used to investigate Katie’s seizures and allowed her to go on and participate in a number of gruelling charity cycles, including Race Across America.
Katie said: “It’s fantastic to return to the hospital that gave me so much support in overcoming my epilepsy.
“The Sick Kids Friends Foundations’ funding meant I could go through the work up testing that allowed me to be selected for neurosurgery that changed my life, and will always have a special place in my heart for that reason.
“It’s so humbling to see the Olympic torch I carried during the 2012 relay take pride of place. I have been privileged enough to meet so many kids with epilepsy here whose dignity and strength is incredible and even helped me carrying on riding during the toughest part of the Race Across America.
“Without the staff and patients of ward 7 and the hospital, I would never have had the honour of carrying the Olympic flame, or even been able to ride a bike safely.
“Because of this, I feel the torch belongs here and not with me.
“It’s an incredible thing and I just hope it continues to inspire the brave, young patients of ward 7 to get back on their feet as soon as they can, because they’ve already inspired me to do more with my own life.”
Rachel McKenzie, head of fundraising at the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, added: “We feel very lucky to have such a treasured possession among the wards at the hospital and are extremely grateful to Katie for this priceless gift.
“The Olympic torch signifies strength, bravery and persistence – something which the patients of Edinburgh’s children’s hospital have bags of.
“At the Foundation we’re working hard to ensure children are less scared during their time in hospital and have a positive experience – the Olympic torch is a fantastic asset which lights up ward 7 for our young patients.
“I have no doubt it will go on to inspire some future athletes and Olympians who, like Katie, will overcome the biggest of challenges.”