A Rotorua mother is setting out on the run of a lifetime to raise money for an 8-year-old with cancer.

Cherie Waterhouse, 35, plans to run 67km - 25km more than a marathon - at the upcoming Blue Lake 24 Hour Challenge.

This gruelling undertaking is all for one selfless reason: to raise money for a family friend, 8-year-old Mileka Hamilton, who has bravely battled cancer for two years.

Mileka's cancer battle began in 2015, when she was 6. Since then she has collected more than 1400 courage beads, with each one representing a treatment, procedure, blood test or surgery.

Advertisement

Eight-years-old, 1400 individual appointments or admissions, in two and a half years.

Mileka has had her arm amputated due to osteosarcoma, numerous cycles of chemotherapy, lung surgery to remove cancer growths and corrective surgery for club foot.

Mileka, right, and her older sister, Caelan. Photo/Givealittle
Mileka, right, and her older sister, Caelan. Photo/Givealittle

Her Hamilton-based family is back and forth to Starship Hospital in Auckland, and has been through a "tremendous amount of emotional and financial stress", according to the Givealittle donation page.

Last month, on the day her leg cast was removed after three months of restricted movement, scans showed Mileka's lung cancer had returned.

"I just thought I'd do something to help out the family, because it's costly when you have to keep travelling and can't work a lot," Ms Waterhouse said.

Ms Waterhouse worked with Mileka's aunt, Angelique Jansen, when she lived in Hamilton, and knows Mileka's family.

Ms Jansen will also be running in the challenge, and targeting the farthest distance she's ever run too - 45km.

"It'll be a walk-run," Ms Waterhouse said. "67km is minimum that I'm aiming for - I'd like to go a bit further."

The challenge runs from 8am on Saturday, September 23, through to 9am on Sunday. Those taking part push themselves to run as many laps of the 5.6km Blue Lake as they can in six hours, 12 hours, or the full 25.

She said in addition to being absolutely exhausting, the day will be a lot of laughs, with runners in silly costumes and friends and supporters dotted around the track. She said last year a man ran a lap in yellow speedos.

And Ms Waterhouse won't be exempt from dressing up.

"Apparently at one point I have to wear a cat costume. Mileka loves purple and loves cats. I'm going to try do black lycra and a black cat tail, and draw whiskers on my face.

"It's quite interesting to come watch. You might be interested in coming to see the crazy people. Honestly, it's unbelievable."

Ms Waterhouse said taking on a running challenge seemed appropriate for her as the activity has played a large part in her own life.

She's lost 50kg in the past few years and took up running only two years ago. She moved to Rotorua from Hamilton in January in part because of the beautiful trail running, and has not found herself disappointed.

"I love Rotorua. Absolutely love it here. So glad I moved. People are fantastic here - they always have time for you."

Ms Waterhouse hopes to raise $1000 for Mileka and the family.

"Anything I can do to help the family... It's still a long road."

Her donation page, Laps for Mileka, can be found here, or at www.givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/lapsformileka.

A more general fundraising page for Mileka can be found here, or at www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/milekasjourneycontinues.