Northern Ireland

Robbery fails to stop Belfast mum's 24-hour race bid

Kellie Lyttle
Image caption Kellie Lyttle competing during the 24-hour race

A Belfast mother has revealed how she was determined to finish a 24-hour race despite learning her sponsorship money of £600 had been stolen as she ran the event.

Kellie Lyttle's nine-year-old son Bradley faces numerous operations to combat a kidney and bladder condition he has battled since he was a baby.

She was taking part in the Energia 24-hour event in Belfast at the weekend to raise cash for a group which helps young people with similar conditions at the Royal Belfast Hospital For Sick Children.

Mrs Lyttle eventually completed 82 miles at the Mary Peters track after earlier collapsing in the round-the-clock challenge.

The former All-Ireland junior triathlon champion said that when she heard her sponsorship cash bucket had been stolen from the north Belfast shop she owns with her husband, Gerard, it only made her stronger.

"I fainted during the race, I found it really hard to eat," she said.

"I was gutted and it was tough when I heard the money had been stolen.

"I found out during the race, I had an hour and a half left to go when I found out.

"It happened at our Vivo shop in North Queen Street on Saturday, it was a year exactly since we got the shop.

"The money was sitting in a bucket on the counter.

"We didn't think someone would be sick enough to grab it.

"It gave me my determination, I was thinking if only I can get another box of money up."

Dialysis

Mrs Lyttle explained more about her son's condition and the hospital group she was supporting.

"Bradley had to have an emergency operation when he was eight-months-old," she added.

"His left kidney is severely damaged because of the condition, he had to go for an operation to protect his kidneys.

"Bradley needs to be monitored regularly.

"The Ace Group at the Royal Belfast Hospital For Sick Children is made up of doctors and nurses who raise money for kids with bladder and bowel problems to go on trips.

"Bradley doesn't get to get away on trips generally because of the nature of his condition, this is a way of improving his quality of life."

'Overwhelmed'

The 34-year-old, who was joined by her brothers Paul and Dominic in the 24-hour race, said she had been overwhelmed by the support she received, as competitors and spectators rallied round.

"When the awards ceremony was happening on Saturday, an announcement was made about what had happened with the robbery," Mrs Smyth added.

"I was walking down the steps and people were handing me money, it was overwhelming the spirit of people.

"They are an amazing bunch of people, I got about £260."

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