Incurable disease can’t prevent Stevenage man from running a marathon for charity

John Mahoney on the treadmill.

John Mahoney on the treadmill. - Credit: Archant

While the eyes of the world were turned to the London Marathon, dogged John Mahoney was going the distance back home in Stevenage.

The 54-year-old wasn’t about to let an incurable degenerative disease which severely affects his balance stop him from completing the iconic 26.2-mile test for a good cause.

John raised more than £1,000 for brain injury charity The Children’s Trust when he walked the distance over six days at Stevenage Lifestyles gym, based at Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre in Lytton Way.

His personal trainer Chris Tillbrook said: “It was an amazing effort for him and was particularly challenging. I was there to support him, to make sure he was on target and safe when running.”

John has lived in Stevenage Old Town since he was three months old and until two years ago was a fit and healthy man.

His health then started to deteriorate and after several visits and assessments with doctors he was diagnosed with the neurological condition ataxia a year ago.

The disease is caused by damage to the brain and affects every part of the body including speech and balance.

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“Around one in every 10,000 people have it and unfortunately I happen to be one of those,” said John.

“It affects my balance, co-ordination and speech and there is no cure.

“My consultant said that if I fell during the marathon it would create a lot of complications but I couldn’t wear a crash helmet because it would irritate me too much.

“The whole thing was really difficult and I didn’t enjoy all of it, especially the last day which was really tough.

“But now looking back I’ve managed to raise more than £1,000 for The Children’s Trust which is great.

“Those kids don’t ask to be sick and they need all the support they can get.

“I think life isn’t about moaning about your problems but putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and seeing how lucky you are.

“I want to say a massive thank you to Chris, Donna Lee and Paul and Tracy Meadows because they made all this happen.”

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