Holly Mann will be running the 2017 marathon to raise funds for Ben, a Southampton boy who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Ben was diagnosed with Duchenne, a progressive, life-limiting, muscle-wasting condition, when he was only three. His mother, Becky, thought she was just being over-cautious when she checked with the health visitor about Ben’s enlarged calf muscles and the way he would keep his legs straight when getting up from the floor, so this terrible news came right out of the blue.
Now, at ten years old, Ben can only walk short distances, and can’t ride a bike or play football any more, but he’s still the same cheeky, funny Southampton FC supporter he’s always been.
Ben’s parents have set up a fund, “For Ben, For All” to raise money to support Ben’s on-going medical needs (such as adapting the house to make it fully wheelchair accessible) and to fund research into Duchenne. Friends and family have helped by taking part in runs, triathlons and hikes.
Holly has been friends with Ben’s parents since before he was born. In fact, Holly’s daughter, Maddy, and Ben were born only 5 days apart, which meant that news of Ben’s illness felt very close to home.
Understandably, Holly wanted to do everything she could to help Ben and his family. Last year, that meant running six half marathons to raise £566. This year, she’s aiming to go several better, by entering seven full marathons, and upping her fund-raising target to £1000.
With family commitments, a full-time job, and evenings spent teaching aerobics and coaching a girls’ football team, it isn’t easy for her to find the time to train, but Holly isn’t the type to let that stop her. She’s often up at 5am to fit in a run before work, while weekend runs turn into family affairs, with Maddy or son Jack, 14, running or cycling alongside.
Ultimately, Holly thinks she’d like to move onto ultra distances, or to enter a race overseas - maybe the Rome marathon. What she knows for certain is that she won’t stop running and she won’t stop looking for ways to help Ben. Like she says, “I run because he can’t”.
You can find Holly’s fund-raising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/holly-mann-3