About our founder
Running for Premature Babies was founded by Sophie Smith in 2006 after she and her husband Ash lost all three of their prematurely born triplets in 2006. Henry was born at 21 weeks, too early for medical intervention to save him, and he lived for one precious hour. Jasper and Evan were born at 24 weeks and were cared for at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick.
On the day that Sophie went into labour with Jasper and Evan, there was a critical shortage of NICU beds in Sydney, and she was warned that her babies might need to be transferred interstate, with the possibility of her babies being separated. Luckily, Sophie’s boys weren’t born for another three days, by which time two NICU beds had become available at the Royal Hospital for Women.
Tragically, despite huge efforts to save their lives, Jasper and Evan were unable to overcome their prematurity. Evan passed away from a brain haemorrhage when he was ten days old. The first time Sophie and Ash held their son was when his doctors removed his life support and he died in their arms. Their third triplet Jasper overcame many hurdles, doubling his birthweight, and they shared many happy memories, but he suffered from chronic lung disease and the ventilators available were unable to support him. When Jasper was 58 days old his lungs collapsed no more could be done to save him.
When their babies were in hospital, Sophie and Ash realised that most of the machines that kept their boys alive were donated and learned that the hospital relies on fundraising for 70% of the equipment in the unit. They also never forgot the shortage of equipment at the time of their birth.
What began as a quest to run the SMH Half Marathon and raise $20,000 for one new humidicrib for the hospital, in memory of their boys, has grown into what is now the Running for Premature Babies Foundation. Our Foundation has so far raised over $5 million for life saving neonatal equipment and funded research to solve the many mysteries of prematurity and advance the care of premature babies for the future.
To date over 8000 babies have directly benefitted from this fundraising and some of the very sickest babies may not have survived without it.
Sophie and Ash went on to have two more sons, Owen and Harvey, but tragically Sophie’s husband Ash passed away in 2016 from brain cancer.
In 2018, together with Deborah Fitzgerald, Sophie co-authored her memoir 'Sophie's Boys' with profits from the sale of the book being donated to the charity.
Sophie continues to work alongside the CEO, Gary Trenaman, and Marketing Admin Assistant, Cassie Farrugia, while also being a director of the charity.
Sophie was named the 2019 NSW Local Hero in the Australian of the Year Awards. Watch acceptance speech.
In 2022 she was awarded an Order of the Medal of Australia (OAM) in the Australia Day Honours.
Other recogntions include:
2020: Bondi Junction Westfield Local Hero
2018: Coogee Woman of the Year
2017: Australia Day Community Service Award
2016: Kingsford Smith Vi Robbins Volunteer of the Year
2014: Australia Day Commendation