Karen is participating in her 8th SMH Half Marathon in honour of her first child Chiara Grace, after first participating in 2011 with the Running for Premature Babies team. In 2009 Karen gave birth to Chiara prematurely at 22 weeks gestation (18 weeks early). At that stage of pregnancy it is too early for foetal survival or medical interventions, resulting in Chiara passing away in Karen's arms only 8 minutes after her birth.
Despite never running before, and not being able to benefit from any of the lifesaving equipment that the Running for Premature Babies charity have paid for, Karen wanted to give Chiara's short life meaning, so she faced the 2011 SMH Half Marathon with a sense of determination that she was going to run the whole course. Since then, she has run every half marathon with the Running for Premature Babies team and raised over $63,000.
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Question: Can you tell us about why you participate in the SMH Half Marathon?
Karen Lovison: This event holds so much significance for me as it was the first half marathon event I participated in! It's a great event and a beautiful picturesque run. I love the fact that I can run along the street of this beautiful city on a clear crisp morning. The SMH Half marathon is also the flagship event for the Running For Premature Babies Foundation who I run with.
Question: Why did you choose to support the Running for Premature Babies Foundation?
Karen Lovison: My first daughter Chiara was born at 22 weeks (18 weeks early), which is too early for medical intervention. We were faced with the heartbreaking notice that Chiara would not survive. Chiara was born at the Royal on 9 November 2009 at 450g and perfectly formed in every way. She was with us for the most precious 8 minutes. Through the haze of grief that we suddenly found ourselves in - we wanted Chiara's life to have meaning and to be able to give back to the wonderful support and care we received from the Royal. My sister first introduced me to RFPB, the amazing Sophie Smith and the work that the RFPB Foundation do in conjunction with the Royal and before I knew it I had set myself a challenge to run my first half marathon. This all started in 2011. 2018 will be my 8th SMH half marathon and I have always run with the RFPB team and my good friend Don Mason. This year we have established Team Chiara with more family and friends joining in the cause!
Question: Can you share your 2018 donation goal with us?
Karen Lovison: RFPB's goal for 2018 is to raise $250,000 for a new monitoring system for the babies in the highest level of Newborn Intensive Care (NICU) at the Royal Hospital for Women's Newborn Care Centre. As a part of that, Team Chiara's goal is $7500. It's a big goal, but we know we can get there through the generosity of family, friends and coworkers, and of course hosting our signature trivia night (more on that later). This amount is significant for me as it will take Team Chiara's total fundraising over $70,000 since 2011 for this amazing charity.
Question: How have you prepared for the upcoming SMH Half Marathon?
Karen Lovison: Running has now become an integral part of my overall health and fitness regime - whilst I run at least once a week throughout the year, in the leadup to the SMH Half this becomes 2 to 3 times a week - one shorter mid week run in the city at lunchtime (helps with familiarising the course) and one longer run on the weekend with the RFPB team. The RFPB team have a dedicated training team that help motivate and keep everyone on track no matter what your fitness level is.
Question: How can others support you and the Running for Premature Babies Foundation?
Karen Lovison: There are a number of ways people can show their support:
There's still time to join the team and run in the half marathon - we are aiming for 500 runners this year so come along and join the team
If you are not a runner you can always come along on the 20th of May and cheer the purple brigade on. There are heaps of vantage points around the city to do so and as a runner, and the support from spectators definitely provides a boost
Financial support is always greatly appreciated - all sponsorship is tax deductible
If trivia is your thing - we hold a trivia night in support of our fundraising efforts that is wildly popular and time and time again has proved to be a great night. Not only is there trivia, but we have a great raffle and auction with fantastic prizes on offer.
Interview by Brooke Hunter