A Harrogate man who has been blind since the age of nine is running the Yorkshire Marathon on 9 October to raise vital funds for three causes very close to his heart.
Andy Wilson, who is Director of RolltheRock, a charity that he set up that works with young people and their leaders, had to have both his eyes removed at the age of nine after losing his sight due to retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer that affects the retina. He is running the marathon with the support of a guide, Darren McClintock, who has made it possible for Andy to take on the challenge.
Along with RolltheRock, Andy is also raising money for Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity, for both the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre and the Dermatology Unit. Andy was diagnosed last year with two lots of melanoma and had to undergo two intensive operations, and is facing a further operation soon after the marathon to have more skin removed. Andy wants to give something back to show his appreciation for their fantastic care.
Speaking about his motivation, Andy said:
My reasons for running the marathon and supporting the hospital and in particular the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre and the dermatology department are really simple. The staff in both areas have supported me through a difficult time, understood my fears, needs and worries, and have gently, kindly and patiently worked with me through these difficult issues. As they have given so much to me, I am passionate about putting something back into them as my way of saying thank you.
Andy thought his marathon dream would end earlier in the year though, when his original guide became injured and was unable to carry on his support role. Fortunately, Darren, who completed the London Marathon this year, responded to Andy’s plea for help on Facebook, and they have established a great partnership. Darren has never run as a guide before but has enjoyed the experience immensely, and they both can’t for the run next week.
David Fisher, Community and Events Fundraiser at Harrogate Hospital and Community Charity said:
Running a marathon is a major challenge for anyone, but to do it blind, following surgery for cancer and just before another operation makes it so much tougher. Andy is an inspiration to all and we are very grateful for his fantastic support. I expect the crowds on the route will cheer Andy on all the way round and make sure that he and his guide get to the end of what will be an amazing achievement.
To sponsor Andy and Darren go to: https://www.mydonate.bt.com/events/yorkmarathon