Miracle Babies Founder digs in to overcome New York Marathon and raise $200,000

PRESTONS miracle mum Melinda Cruz has raised more than $200,000 for the charity she founded by running the New York Marathon in punishing conditions.

Despite temperatures as low as 3C and biting winds, Ms Cruz got around the 42km course in five hours and 50 minutes.

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Ms Cruz set up the Miracle Babies Foundation almost a decade ago to support families of premature and sick newborns after her three sons were all born prematurely.

Ms Cruz charged on despite pain in her knees from early on in the race.

The marathon, which she ran with the help of 18 team members, was her first.

“(I) found it tough because my knees started hurting after the first mile or so and continued to get worse,” Ms Cruz said. “The atmosphere was mind-blowing with lots of cheers and music, people calling our names or saying ‘go Australia’.

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“Definitely one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.”

On the same day Ms Cruz ran in New York, her husband Chris and son Elijah rode 58km in the MS Gong Ride, helping to raise $40,000 as part of Liverpool team Gong Ballistic.

Ms Cruz was delighted to finish and celebrated with her 18 teammates.

The money raised through sponsorship, events and her team members will pay for programs supported by Miracle Babies.

The charity runs initiatives such as the NurtureProgram, delivering a 24-hour support line and support services for sick ­babies and their families.