MEET the Mackem Movers – a team of fun-runners hoping to make a difference.
The six-strong group of friends is limbering up for this year’s Edinburgh Marathon, Scotland’s biggest race, on May 22.
They will be pulling on their trainers for three charities – The Marfan Trust, the British Heart Foundation and Help for Heroes – each of which is a cause close to the heart of one of the Movers.
The female members of the group – Lucy Gash and cousin Amy Gash – will be running the half marathon route while the men – David Roberts, Craig Henderson, Ian Davison and John Wright – will take on the full 26-mile route around the Scottish capital.
Lucy, 24, from Fulwell, will be running for Marfan Trust in memory of her brother Liam, 22, who died while back-packing in Australia in 2006.
Liam had only recently been diagnosed with little-known Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder of connective tissue, and he died after open-heart surgery.
Lucy, a specialist chemotherapy nurse at Sunderland Royal Hospital, said: “I’ve been away travelling, so haven’t done as much fund-raising for Marfan Trust as in the past and I was thinking of a way to get back into it.
“The marathon seemed the perfect choice. I haven’t done a full marathon before, but the men have. We thought it would be something fun for us all to do together.
“It’s so important to raise awareness of Marfan syndrome. We know of people who have been diagnosed after reading about the symptoms in the paper.”
Lucy’s brother Liam towered over his pals at 6ft 10in, but no one realised that his height was a symptom of a life-threatening condition. The former Monkwearmouth School pupil had classic Marfan symptoms – excessive height, clawed toes, long fingers and flexible joints – but he had never been given a diagnosis.
Since his death, Lucy and her family have spearheaded a drive to raise awareness of Marfan symptoms while raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity.
Fellow fun-runner Craig is running in aid of the British Heart Foundation, after losing dad John to a heart attack when he was 53.
Meanwhile, former army serviceman John will be running for Help for Heroes, which helps men and women in the forces who’ve been wounded.
l To sponsor the group, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/mackemmovers