London Marathon: Second Time Around

Darren by Darren
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Running last year’s London Marathon was tough; there were a few times where I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to complete it. However, I did make it over the finish line, and a week or so later I got the running bug and knew I wanted to take part again this year. I decided to run for Whizz-Kidz for the second year in a row because the work that they do is something very close to my own heart.

My son Joshua has cerebral palsy which mainly affects his right side. He can walk but needs a wheelchair to travel for longer distances, including family days out. Joshua is usually a very bubbly character; unfortunately, I noticed that when he had to be pushed around in his he became subdued and stopped interacting with us, which was really sad to see – for example, at the zoo he wouldn’t tell us which animals he wanted to look at if he was being pushed around. We take being able to move around independently for granted and the impact of not having this ability can have a huge effect on social interaction. We could afford to invest in a powered chair for Joshua, but I realise that not everyone is in that situation.

Since receiving his wheelchair last July, Joshua’s become much more independent. We went to our local park for a family day out not long after Joshua received his wheelchair, and he immediately shot off 100 yards away by himself; I realised it was the first time that he had been that far away on his own. It was amazing to see the independence and freedom that his wheelchair had given him.

I decided to run for Whizz-Kidz again this year to help young disabled children and their families to have the same experiences and opportunities. I know that the right wheelchair at the right time can be life-changing, and Whizz-Kidz changes the lives of people who don’t have the financial resources to help themselves. I wanted to run for a charity I could relate to and Whizz-Kidz was the obvious choice.

I’m getting quite close to my target now. I’ve left my fundraising a little later this year, as I know that a lot of people will sponsor me closer to the day. I’ve recently moved jobs, and I’m finding that people who I don’t even know particularly well are sponsoring me, after finding out about Whizz-Kidz and the work that they do. I am also finding that my network of supporters who supported me last year are still sponsoring me because of Whizz-Kidz and why I’ve chosen this particular charity.

What’s great is that both Joshua and my eldest son Samuel, who’s 10, are starting to do their own fundraising. Joshua’s got sporting ambitions of his own, and wants to eventually complete a sponsored Triathlon, using his trike. Samuel will also be doing a “Go Green” uniform day at his school to help raise funds for Whizz-Kidz. I’m so proud that they’re starting to fundraise at such a young age.

Training for a marathon can be up and down – sometimes I feel like a superhero, and other times it can be tough going. Broadly speaking though, I’m keeping on top of training and enjoying it. My wife is very supportive and in many ways I run to inspire my children - as Joshua is a great inspiration to me – it’s good for them to have a role-model who is out there getting on with things and striving to achieve.

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