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Running the London Marathon for nephew living with muscular dystrophy

In May 2023, Vicky Hartley’s life changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Fast forward ten months and the 55-year-old paediatric nurse is training to take part in the London Marathon on Sunday 21 April, inspired by her 23-year-old nephew, Oli, who lives with muscular dystrophy.

My nephew Oli was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy before his first birthday and has always been in a wheelchair. He’s a massive football fan and Brighton & Hove Albion season ticket holder and has never allowed his condition to get in the way of what he is able to do – competing in wheelchair football and having an active social life with family and friends.

‘Life is for living’

Oli’s motto is ‘life is for living’, which is something I had in my mind after my mastectomy last year. I decided that I wanted to do something to celebrate life. I’ve always wanted to run a marathon but never got around to committing to it. So, when my best friend got a ballot place for the London Marathon 2024, I thought that this must be someone trying to tell me something! Having witnessed the impact of my nephew living with a muscle wasting condition, there was always going to be only one charity I would run a marathon for. I got in touch with Muscular Dystrophy UK to see if I could run for them, and here I am!

We’re a very close family

I live within walking distance of my sister, and our children all grew up together. Two of my sons did a sponsored bike ride with Oli’s sister to raise money for a new wheelchair when Oli was younger, and all three of my sons have been registered carers for him.

The boys have always got on well and we’re a very close family. Oli has a wicked sense of humour and his phenomenal positive mental attitude and zest for life rubs off on all of us. Despite the immense impact of living with muscular dystrophy, Oli is determined to show others that strength is not determined by muscles alone.

Oli is my inspiration

I’ve been training regularly with my best friend and our running club, Foxy Ladies, which I’ve been a member of for eight years. Everyone has been so supportive, both in terms of donations and helping with marathon training tips. Since my cancer diagnosis, running has been beneficial for my physical and mental wellbeing. It hasn’t been an easy journey, and I continue to suffer with joint pain, but running does help and Oli is my inspiration for this challenge. I want to raise as much as I can for Muscular Dystrophy UK to help fund groundbreaking research into different muscle wasting conditions. Not just for Oli, but all the other brave young people and their families I’ve met during my 30-year career as a paediatric nurse. 

You can support Vicky’s fundraiser here: 2024tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/vicky-hartley

If you’re interested in taking part in a challenge event for us, go to: musculardystrophyuk.org/get-involved/events

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