Darren chose to support Whizz-Kidz having seen the impact the right equipment at the right time can have.
Darren is a financial director from the East Midlands near Leicester. He lives with his wife Emma and sons Samuel, Joshua and Thomas. Joshua has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Darren is running the London Marathon in 2015 for Whizz-Kidz, in addition to a number of other events, and aims to raise £1600.
Darren says, “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’ve noticed that when he has to be pushed around in his wheelchair (which has to be the case as he struggles to propel the heavy chair with his arms) he becomes subdued and stops interacting with us, which is really sad to see – for example, at the zoo he won’t tell us which animals he wants to look at if he is 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. Joshua is being measured up for his next chair and we have asked if this could be powered, but it’s unlikely as he can move around in the home and the NHS criteria for this is very defined and strict. We can afford to invest in a powered chair for Joshua, but I realise that not everyone is in that situation.
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. One of my best friends is a wheelchair user – he always told me about how heavy and immovable the NHS chairs were and how having a lighter one would be beneficial. I know through him how difficult it can be at times.
The fundraising part: I’ve actually done a couple of earlier events (the 10K Two Castles Run in June 2014 and the Blenheim Palace half marathon in October 2014) to try and get sponsorship money in early; people can be slow to donate if you’re asking them to sponsor you 10 months in advance. I’ve had a good start; I’ve almost reached £1000 which is great. I’ve done a number of sponsored events in the past for Joshua’s specialist nursery and essentially I’m coming back to the same support network of people for donations, but I'm finding they are still sponsoring me because of telling them about Whizz-Kidz and why I’ve chosen this particular charity.
The training bit: 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. I get out 2-3 times a week for runs in the evening. I set regular targets and keep pushing – I’d like to run the whole thing in around 4 hours. My only concern or worry is the logistics of actually getting to the start line! Getting ready and having enough to eat is obviously important and I want to make sure I’m as prepared as possible. When it comes to the race, you don’t know how it’s going to go until you’re actually doing it!
Whizz-Kidz phones every couple of months to ask how I’m getting on. I’m not London based so it can be difficult to get down for the training days. But the fact that these training days happen and that Whizz-Kidz is supportive is great to see.
Any advice for someone considering doing an event for Whizz-Kidz?
To anyone thinking of doing something like this in the future, I’d say just start somewhere – a lot of people talk about wanting to run the marathon and do things for charity, but it’s important to aim lower to begin with, get the running bug and go from there. Run a mile at a time, so to speak. I ran a 10km as part of a team at work a few years ago and it was tough – what was great to see was the sense of achievement from, not only me, but also friends who’d never got to that level of fitness before. I’m hoping to replicate that feeling at the marathon.”
As Darren understands, mobility equipment can be very costly. By raising £1,600, this could cover half the cost of providing a disabled child’s manual wheelchair.