If Andy Shea manages to finish this year’s Virtual London Marathon on behalf of The Amber Trust, he will certainly have done it with a little help from his friends.
The 34-year-old carpenter takes on the 26.2mile challenge on October 3 in a bid to give something back to the charity that has added so much to his daughter’s life.
Two-year-old Poppy is one of only 250 people in the world known to have the genetic condition Fraser syndrome, which has left one of her eyes fused shut and the other only able to distinguish between light and dark.
Her dad, who lives in Caterham-on-the-Hill, will be one of 50,000 participants taking on the virtual edition of the event, meaning he will be pounding the streets of East Surrey alone come the big day.
Most charity runners speak of the important role the crowd plays in getting them through the main event – particularly in the closing stages – and Amber’s man has worked a way around that.
“Rather than have someone run with me or shouting from the side of the road cheering me on, I think I’m just going to work out a route to all of my friends’ houses,” said Andy this week.
“That way they can give me the drinks – like the water stations they have in the main race – and it gives me an incentive to keep going.”
Fraser syndrome can be fatal with only 60 percent of children diagnosed with the genetic disorder surviving beyond their first birthday.
The Amber Trust support Poppy through its Little Amber scheme, which provides music sessions for children in the early years and their families. And Shea believes now is the right time to give something back to a cause that may have cost him more than a few sleepless nights.
“Poppy absolutely loves music. She’s always playing games with music. You can play her a short tune and she’ll play it back to you,” said Andy, who has already raised more than £700 but is hoping for more.
“Amber pay for her music sessions and bought her a keyboard that she is always playing. If I forget to switch it off when she goes to bed, she’ll just wake up and start playing. That could be in the middle of the night or at 4am. Because she is blind, she doesn’t know the difference between night and daytime.
“Amber has provided all sorts of things for her and I thought I’d run the marathon to try and give something back.”
To support Andy Shea and The Amber Trust in his marathon quest please visit his Virgin Money Fundraising page via uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AndyShea.