The daughter of a heart transplant survivor will be ending a busy year of campaigning for the British Heart Foundation when she takes part in the Sheffield Santa Jog on Sunday.
Tasha Hawker, aged 20, got involved with BHF after her father Gordon was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a debilitating disease of the heart.
He had been fit and even played squash for his national team of Scotland - but when he was diagnosed it immediately affected his mobility and changed his life.
Gordon received a heart transplant 18 months after his diagnosis in 1994.
After the operation he was given only three months to live - despite being on medication to stop his body from rejecting the new heart – but he pulled through.
His experience inspired Tasha to get involve with BHF, and she is now head of the charity’s student fundraising group at the University of Sheffield.
Tasha, a journalism student, said: “He remained very positive and at first had small goals like wanting to see my brother turn three and then see him go to school.”
Her dad, now 50, is still unable to work but can play golf and lives a full life.
Tasha believes it is down to the type of research carried out by the BHF.
“My dad had his transplant 16 years ago, but the research changes things so quickly that if he’d had it even five years before, who knows if he would have made it,” she said.
Some of the ground-breaking research the BHF is studying involves zebra fish which can regrow parts of their own heart when it is damaged.
Scientists hope through the research they will be able to mend broken hearts in as little as 10 years’ time.
Tasha, who is gearing up to run through Sheffield in a Santa suit on Sunday, said: “I would urge everyone to get involved.
“I know personally the money raised can make a massive difference.”
The jog starts at 11am in Tudor Square.
To register for a place visit bhf.org.uk/sheffieldsantajog or call the British Heart Foundation on 01623 624558.