Belper Games to be staged again as fund-raising goes on in memory of mum-of-three Penny Wheeler
A FUND set up by a mother-of-three who died from a rare illness will continue in her memory, say her family.
More than £35,000 has been raised by the family and friends of Penny Wheeler since 2009 after she was diagnosed with two different conditions.
The 53-year-old suffered from scleroderma – which affects one in every 10,000 people and meant her body was attacking itself – and this triggered her pulmonary fibrosis, or scarring of the lungs.
To help her pay for treatment which Penny could not get on the NHS, well-wishers took part in sponsored walks, mini-music festivals, half-marathons and cycle rides – among other events.
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This included the Belper Games 2012 – a day of fund-raising last July at the town's rugby club.
Penny, of Beaurepaire Crescent, died in December – leaving husband Nick, 53, and children Daniel, 28, Niall, 24, and Megan, 22.
Nick said the family had now decided to continue raising money in Penny's memory – with the proceeds going to the Scleroderma Society, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust and other local charities.
He said: "Penny was a marvellous person, never without a smile on her face.
"That's how we will remember her and that's why family, friends and people in the community wanted to raise money for her – she was a lovely person whose nature encouraged people to want to help her. Because of the nature of her condition, we knew it was terminal and we, along with our children, openly discussed the future.
"We talked about running the Belper Games again this year – but I discussed it hoping Penny would still be with me to enjoy it."
Nick said that in the month before her death Penny broke her arm and was bed-ridden for three weeks.
He said: "It meant Penny was less mobile and, in my opinion, I think – with the nature of her condition – it hastened things, but she was still smiling and laughing right to the end. The night before she died, she spent time with me and the children. I was falling asleep and they were all taking the mickey out of me – it was nice. That's exactly how we'll remember her."
The family have now donated £8,000 to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, £5,500 to the Scleroderma Society and £250 to FareShare, a national charity which fights food poverty in the UK.
They are planning to hold the Belper Games 2013 on July 20. For more information about Penny's fund, visit its page on social networking website Facebook or follow @PennysFund on Twitter.