The Waterside Half Marathon is one of the toughest challenges in the city’s sporting calendar, but each year it attracts a surge of new contenders who step up to the plate to raise money for a worthy cause.
Julie McGinley is one of the first timers who will be lining up at the Gransha Grounds in two weeks’ time on behalf of the Stroke Association, which offers communications support to people suffering from Aphasia.
The group meets every Tuesday to work with stroke victims who have difficulty with speech and communication – providing for some the only environment they feel comfortable communicating in, as Julie explained.
“We currently have 13 members who have been referred to us, and we meet every Tuesday at Lisnavar Court where we work with them on their speech, and practice their writing and reading,” she said. “We also organise social activities and provide some respite for carers – many people have to care for family members full-time which can be very difficult.
“Aphasia is a condition which impairs the brain’s ability to formulate and comprehend speech and is often the result of a stroke. We work with people experiencing different levels of the condition, from Stage 1 post stroke patients, which is speech therapy oriented, right through to stage 3. “Rehabilitation is most effective if begun right away, and patients can recover some or most of their skills through speech therapy. And we try to make people aware of the FAST rule. This refers to the four aspects of stroke which we urge people to be aware of before seeking urgent medical attention – Face weakness– Arm weakness, Speech problems and Time – call 999 immediately.
“Our members are all referred to us by the group’s Information, Advice and Support Officer, Liam Quigley who goes out to assess whether they should be availing of the service.”
The organisation is entirely voluntary and relies solely on fundraising to provide these services to those living with the life-changing affects of Aphasia. And when one of the volunteers announced they were going to take on the Waterside Half Marathon to raise some vital funds for the service, it inspired the rest of the team to join in says Julie.
“When we heard that one of the girls was signing up to do the full half Marathon, we thought that taking on the Relay challenge was a great idea. So we have two teams currently in training for that, and any money raised will go straight into the charity fund.”
The girls are among over 1,900 runners taking part in this year’s Waterside Half Marathon – a record number for the event, which has now reached its full entry quota. The race leaves the grounds at 10.30am on Sunday September 14 and anyone who wants to support the event can still sign up for the 2km Family Fun Run by registering on the day, or pre-event at Lisnagelvin Leisure Centre - or why not come along to cheer on family and friends.
For more information on the event and course details go to www.derrycity.gov.uk/halfmarathon