"Imogen really loved people and she really was special. She just was one of these people who loved the world and wanted the world to love her back, and they really did. She was very, very caring and very passionate and an extrovert."
Her much-loved daughter died the day of the 2019 ASB Auckland Marathon. Now Sarah Carter is paying it forward.
Sarah and her husband Andrew Scurr's youngest daughter, Imogen Scurr, 9, suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling from a tree on the family property near Taupō on October 5, 2019.
The accident was the worst kind of bad luck. Imogen, described as "passionate, brilliant and determined", was enjoying a normal, healthy children's activity when she fell from a relatively low height, striking her head hard on landing.
After two weeks in the paediatric intensive care unit of Starship Hospital, with Imogen in a coma unable to breathe for herself and deteriorating daily, she slipped away in Sarah's arms on the morning of October 20, 2019.
The next day, her grief-stricken mother was running, in a fog of despair and sorrow, through the Auckland Domain being comforted by friend Angie Glew.
Angie realised the Auckland Marathon had just been held and suggested to Sarah that next year they should return to Auckland and run the marathon as a fundraiser for Starship.
Neither had ever done a marathon before but Sarah says the care and support Imogen and her family received all through the health system but especially at Starship, was incredible.
"At the time I was thinking 'I could never run a marathon but nothing would ever hurt as much as this does'," says Sarah.
The idea was initially shelved while Sarah, Andrew and older daughter Rhiannon focused on getting through Imogen's funeral and a huge memorial service at Imogen's school, Wairakei, where even the family were surprised by how widely Imogen was known and the love people felt for her.
The massive outpouring of community grief took their breath away.
Slowly, through her pain, Sarah started to consider Angie's idea, and whether something positive could come from such a heart-breaking event.
"I wasn't thinking about the marathon as much but it started to evolve and lots of other people started to say 'we could come and run with you and we could potentially do that too'," Sarah says.
"And for me, I thought 'this is something I can do in Imogen's name, to do some good'.
"I didn't want her to be defined as the kid that fell out of a tree. Imogen can be the kid who inspired people to come together and fundraise in her name. And Starship is the most amazing charity and to be able to help keep that facility for our kids is really important.
"We were there for two weeks and I never want to go back, but it's such an incredible place. The quality of care, both the compassion and the humanity that people have really blew me away and I want Imogen to be remembered for who she was, not how she died."
So Sarah joined Team Starship and set up an Everyday Heroes fundraising page called Running for Imo.
Although there have been many dark days where she hasn't even wanted to get out of bed, she perseveres, not only because the marathon training has given her a focus, but also because the couple's older daughter Rhiannon still needs her parents too.
"I can't even begin to explain how awful it is and you literally need a community to hold you together," says Sarah. "And a marathon is a good metaphor because on many days it's all you can do is literally put one foot in front of the other."
The marathon training has been exhausting. Sarah says she is not naturally a runner and before the motivation of running for Imogen and the Starship Foundation would have dismissed it as impossible.
She is grateful that renowned Taupō coach and Ironman Sam Warriner is donating her time to the cause and supporting Sarah which has been an invaluable motivator and boost.
Other support has also been incredible, unstinting and generous.
The Running for Imo campaign got a major kick start with $4000 raised at a local wine-tasting evening. Some 30 people have signed up to do the 42km, 21km or 11km distances with Sarah, including five running a marathon in the United Kingdom. All the runners are appealing for sponsorship on the Running for Imo page.
"It's amazing. I've had people who I went to school with, who my brother went to school with, people years and years ago, it's amazing how generous and kind and supportive people can be in many ways.
"There's been so much support to get us through."
With the Starship Foundation one of the many charities that has been unable to hold its normal fundraising events due to Covid-19, Running for Imo is even more important. Sarah says while her original goal was $10,000, when she realised the Starship Foundation was struggling she upped the goal to $25,000.
If the Auckland Marathon doesn't go ahead on November 1 due to Covid-19 restrictions, Sarah and her 35 other runners will make other arrangements. She will run it in Taupō with between 20 and 24 supporters and others will do the distance in their place of residence. She says the timing is really important.
"It's the time of year, it's going to be the anniversary [of Imogen's death] near enough so my plan is that we will run here and aim to have everyone finish at about the same time. My brother and sister-in-law in the UK are looking at starting at about the same time and running through the night."
The runners have Running for Imo hoodies and T-shirts with unicorns on them, which Sarah says Imogen would have loved.
The family are also building a memorial garden for her and have done 'lots of little things' to keep Imogen in their hearts.
Sarah says learning to live without Imogen physically present is not about moving on, it is about moving forward and keeping her close.
That includes bringing people together to celebrate Imogen and Imogen's life, remembering her as "the brilliant little girl" that she was and inspiring people to raise money for Starship so that something good can come from such a tragedy.
"You don't stop being a parent," says Sarah. "Everyone she interacted with, she was really engaging, everyone knew who she was. I've become an awful lot closer to people. Adversity and tragedy connects people."
To support Running for Imo, visit everydayhero.com and search 'Running for Imo'.