Two local sisters, Emma Murray and Tori Robinson, had determination at the front of their minds as they stood at the starting line of the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow last Sunday.
Their challenge was a ten kilometre run to raise funds for Eglinton teenager Jennifer Smyth.
17-year-old Jennifer, who is Tori’s niece was a very talented gymnast.
Jennifer trained for up to five hours every day.
However in September 2013, she suffered a fall which broke her neck and left her quadriplegic.
After her accident there was a period where Jennifer could only communicate by blinking.
But her resilience and determination in the face of huge life challenges have amazed and inspired everyone around her.
Jennifer now blogs about her fight back to fitness through her facebook page ‘Jennifer’s-journey’ and the brave teenager has even returned to the gym where her accident happened.
During the summer she spent five weeks having intense physio at Stoke Mandeville’s spinal injuries unit.
There Jennifer had a tailored exercise regime which used innovative functional electrical stimulation to encourage movement in her legs and hands by using electrical impulses to work her muscles.
Amazingly, Jennifer was taking part in activities that would never have been deemed possible in the days after her injury. She was also regularly using a standing frame to help prevent osteoporosis.
Seeing all that Jennifer had been through gave Tori and Emma the determination to complete the race last Sunday.
Tori takes up the story: “Myself and Emma returned from a holiday last June, after putting on a bit of weight, we wanted to set ourselves a challenge to try and loose some weight, so Emma signed us up for the ten kilometre run.
“At the same time we found out that the NHS were not funding any more of Jennifer’s physio treatment, so I spoke to Jennifer’s mum Pamela and she agreed to allow us to fund raise for Jennifer.
“After having treatment in England, specialists told Jennifer and her parents that she might benefit from a micro light wheel chair, it will cost around £5,000, so we decided that raising money for the wheel chair would be our goal, and to date we have raised £1,300.”
Tori, a mum of three says that Jennifer’s story really pulled on her heart strings: “I remember first meeting Jennifer, and my eldest daughter looks just like Jennifer did then.
“She is so young and has been through so much.
“Her courage is amazing, she is a very determined girl, anything that doctors have told her she won’t be able to do - she had fought hard and proved them all wrong.
“Jennifer was our inspiration on Sunday. We are not runners, by no means, I go to the gym and my sister enjoys horse riding, - I have completed a few five kilometre runs before, but never a ten kilometre run.
However, I kept telling myself during training that if it was a challenge to me then there was no point in taking part.“
The sisters completed the run together in an unofficial time of one hour 12 minutes.
“It was very emotional finishing the run,” told Tori. “We managed to stay together for the whole of the run, and we are very proud that we have completed our challenge to help Jennifer.” You can still donate at https://www.justgiving.com/JenniferSmyth97/