Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Auckland parent's marathon effort to thank Starship

An Auckland couple are on a mission to give back to Starship - the hospital which has cared for their daughter, who has a rare form of dwarfism since birth.

Howard Gilbert is set to do a 26km charity run on Wednesday, while his wife, Pip Gilbert, follows behind with a roving bake sale, around the city.

Howard Gilbert is training for the ASB Auckland marathon, which takes place later this year, and has set a fundraising target of $4220 - $100 per kilometre - which he plans to donate to the children's hospital.

"My daughter Isabel, she's been a Starship kid since she was born," he said. "The care she has been given is brilliant.

"I guess it's a way of giving back to Starship for the care that we received."

In an effort to get closer to his fundraising target the father-of-two is taking one of his training runs on a 26km circuit around a number of Auckland ASB branches, from Onehunga to Waiheke.

Gilbert, who is an amateur runner, said it had taken some effort to get into shape for the fuller 42km run in October.

He trains about three times a week; shorter runs on Tuesday and Thursday before doing a longer run on the weekend.

In support of her husband, Pip Gilbert planned to do a baking marathon of around a thousand goods which she'd cart in a van behind her husband as he ran.

While she was proud of her husband for pounding the pavement, she was pretty content to keep her marathon to the kitchen.

She expected to spend most of Sunday baking a range of treats - but said it was all for a good cause.

"Starship is an amazing organisation, the care they have shown for our daughter since the day she was born has just been outstanding.

"Part of it is they really seem to understand children, the whole way the environment is set up to be welcoming and non-threatening.

"The presence of clown doctors to bring laughter into what's quite a stressful environment ... they just really understand what it's like to be a child dealing with things that are not the norm."

Daughter, Isabel, 7, the Gilbert's first-born, has a condition known as the Conradi-Hunermann Syndrome.

It's characterised by skeletal malformations, skin abnormalities, cataracts and being of short stature.

Isabel, who also has a younger brother, Matthew, 4, was born with a cataract and had her first surgery at just four weeks old.

"When you send your child in to be put to sleep and have somebody cut them open it's a completely different feeling," Pip Gilbert said. "You sit there thinking 'hurry up, I want her to be okay'."

One of her legs is significantly shorter than the other, she has a pronounced curve in her spine and a few skin abnormalities.

The Gilberts said hospital visits and specialist appointments had become a regular part of life - but in many ways they were grateful her condition wasn't life threatening.

Howard Gilbert said there were many families they met at Starship who were in a tougher position.

"When it's a case of life-threatening condition - that care and attention and support for the family from Starship must be a godsend."

Howard Gilbert's run on Wednesday

09:00 Onehunga
09:20 Royal Oak
09:35 Greenwoods Corner
10;10 Roskill
10;45 Dominion Road
11:25 Auckland Hospital and visit Starship
12:25 Broadway
13:00 Parnell
13:20 Auckland University
13:35 Wyndham Street
13:45 Auckland Central
14:10 Ponsonby
14:30 North Wharf
15:00 Ferry to Waiheke
16:00 Waiheke

- NZ Herald

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