HUNDREDS of people laced up their running shoes and headed to Leverhulme Park to take part in a special run to celebrate the life-changing effects of organ transplants.

The Bolton News Donor Run was held at the park on Saturday night and saw transplant athletes line up with donors, the families of donors and members of the public to run distances of either three or five kilometres.

The race formed part of The Westfield Health British Transplant Games event taking place in Bolton this weekend, but where other events have focused on transplant recipients, the donor run offered a chance to reflect on those who have given the ultimate gift of life.

One person who knows more than anyone the importance of remembering the generosity of organ donors is Bolton mum Natalie Kerr, who underwent a double lung transplant in 2012 after suffering pulmonary hypertension.

She walked the five kilometre route surrounded by her family and said: “It was a challenging route. There was a really steep hill as well, but it is amazing to think I was in a wheelchair two years ago and now I have just walked five kilometres.

“I was thinking about my donor the whole way round and hoping that she was looking down on me — I hope that I made her proud.

“It was amazing to have my family with me and to cross that finish line surrounded by my sisters.”

Natalie’s mum, Chris Kerr, who also completed the 5k route, said: “We are so proud of Natalie. When you think about what she has been through, it’s incredible.”

Joining the runners setting off in the sun was Bolton News reporter Liam Thorp who donated bone marrow last year to a young boy who was gravely ill.

He said: “I hadn’t done any training and there was a horrible hill that I did not see coming, but I finished in under 25 minutes which should save me some mickey-taking in The Bolton News office.

“I thought about the young boy who received my bone marrow as I went around. I don’t know too much about him but I hope he is doing well.

“It was an emotional atmosphere with so many inspirational people running the course and it was a privilege to be able to join them.”

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