So, there is just under a week to go until the Virgin Money London Marathon 2016, which means it’s time for my final blog. I thought this would be a good opportunity to look back and reflect on the journey I have been on, training relentlessly and raising £5000 for people with a learning disability.
When taking on a big task, it’s always important to remember why you’re doing it. For me, it helps me realise that, no matter how hard I have worked during the last 10 months with training and fundraising, I have never had to live life in my brother Matthew’s shoes. Matthew has a learning disability, and is my inspiration. Here he is, above, with his niece.
It has made me realise that I have taken the past 27 years of my life for granted, taken everyday chores and events as a given, as if they are owed to me. These past 10 months have changed my perception about the world and how hard everyday events can be for people with a learning disability.
As a society, we sometimes get frustrated when things don't go our way or they don't pan out as we think they should. As a result, we show our naivety to the real world and real issues. We forget that there are people in the world who can find everyday life a struggle.
I, singled handedly, cannot take away all of the struggles that people with a learning disability have to go through - day in, day out - but I can help to raise awareness. And that’s why I am running the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday.
The actual running of the Marathon feels like the end of a huge exploratory journey. Am I nervous? Yes, immensely! There are so many reasons why I don’t want to fail; there are so many people wishing me well and hoping that I absolutely smash the big day (myself included!) I have put an enormous amount of pressure on myself, and I need to channel this energy into positive energy and use it to my advantage on race day.
Every person who sees me running on Sunday 24th April will see my bright pink Mencap vest. I’d like to think they will wonder why I am running for Mencap, and what the charity has done for me and my family.
The story of the support we have received from Mencap is what I have tried to spread in the last 10 months, and raise money in the process.
No amount of money raised will ever be able to repay the work Mencap do for thousands of families throughout the UK but hopefully my little 10 months have raised awareness to people who otherwise might not have taken any notice.
I have had the honour of writing blogs for Mencap, of having the support from Nici and Sian at Mencap, and of giving something back to Mencap for all of the times that they have helped my brother.
This is just the beginning of my journey for Mencap and I intend to run many more races for them. Mencap’s work will never be complete; there will always be challenges and tough choices to make, but I will continue to do my bit to support Mencap and raise awareness that everybody deserves the same opportunities in life.
Those of you who are part of #TeamMencap, you should be extremely proud. Not only have you raised awareness of learning disability, you have made a genuine difference to the lives of thousands of other families who, if they knew you, would wrap their arms round you and thank you, thank you for your selflessness, thank you for all of the effort you put in to help Mencap and thank you for just being you, for caring, for wanting to make a difference.
You have made a difference, you have pushed your body for months on end for what youbelieve in, you have raised a massive amount of money to help Mencap and on 24 April,you will end your personal journey by running over that finish line. You deserve the medal and you deserve to reap the praise you receive for your achievement.
Good luck everyone, see you on Sunday!