Today I had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people at Warrington Disability Partnership as part of my 52 marathons in 52 weeks challenge.
When I decided to run the 52 in 52 I knew it would be a one off huge challenge for me. For some crazy people I know, running 26.2 miles 52 times is like a long weekend or something but for me it will probably be the craziest thing I ever do (although I am still considering running one in Irregular Choice one day to break the high heel marathon record). I’ve been asked a lot if I’m doing the challenge for charity and honestly I wasn’t. I was pretty much just doing it for the medal. Well also to reach 100 marathons quicker because who knows if I’ll be well enough to run in a few years. Mostly though, the medal. I decided having a charity to focus on wasn’t the worst idea ever, it might help keep me motivated and maybe I could inspire a few people to donate money. I wanted to go local and after my experience with a hidden disability over the last few years, Warrington Disability Partnership was my only choice.
This is how I ended up in the office of Dave Thompson MBE on a Thursday afternoon. Dave is the CEO and one of the founders of the charity and I’m pretty certain he’s a genius. I think I could see cogs moving in his head. He is the loveliest most down to earth guy but seriously a legend and he really needs a book written about him. If I could channel his enthusiasm and passion I think I could I could run the 52 marathons in like a 52 days not weeks. After five minutes with him I knew I’d picked the right charity.
I was lucky enough to get a tour of the facilities from Caroline, the Head of Corporate Services. There was so much going on that I don’t quite know where to start. I loved the mobility ‘garage’ where the guys fix and service mobility equipment (and make it very very shiny). They take old stuff destined for landfill and fix it up so that it can help more people. What can’t be used in the UK any more is sent to other countries as part of the Phoenix Project to help disabled people across the world. There are so many other services though the learning centre with the person focused courses, the demo flat (with a slightly creepy cat but seriously innovative), the adapted narrow boat called Wizard, employment support, direct payments support, the equipment showroom and loans service whose aim is to make sure that people get the right equipment for them. The disability helpline, caravans, luncheon clubs, volunteer programs, oh my. I could seriously go on for hours about the different services (poor James) and it’s so people focused.
My lasting impression though is that of the people I met today. They spoke with such passion about their jobs what they help to deliver. Genuine everyday heroes who are making a difference for people. I was seriously in awe of all of them and I feel very privileged that I get to help in a small way. It will certainly keep me motivated when I’m at like mile 20 and wondering why I’m doing it. I feel like running isn’t enough though so I’m thinking maybe I can raise awareness of hidden disabilities and possibly inspire a few people along the way. If I can run a marathon (me who never did a PE lesson and was the most unfit person ever before I started running) then anyone can and I’ve done 47 already so no excuse to not go try a parkrun. Or swim. Or cycle. Or whatever floats your boat. I think some sports even come with a boat. I owe my mental health to running so am trying to pay it forward.