Teen with cerebral palsy finishes New York Marathon

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A teenager with cerebral palsy who was once told she would never walk has finished the New York Marathon, raising more than £142,000 for charity.

Zoe North, 19, completed the 26.2-mile race over five gruelling days in aid of Sparks, the children’s medical research charity, which works with Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Her condition means she suffers difficulty with balance, muscle weakness and co-ordination and just five years ago she could not walk flat-footed.

Zoe North completed the 2017 New York Marathon over five days despite having cerebral palsy

Zoe North completed the 2017 New York Marathon over five days despite having cerebral palsy

Zoe, 19, has raised at least £142,000 for Sparks, which funds children's medical research. She is pictured celebrating her achievement with friends and family in New York

Zoe, 19, has raised at least £142,000 for Sparks, which funds children’s medical research. She is pictured celebrating her achievement with friends and family in New York

Yet her achievement came just 18 months after she finished the London Marathon over the course of a week, raising more than £120,000 for the same charity. 

After completing the course, Zoe said: ‘The New York Marathon was one of the hardest things I have done, but every step was made worthwhile by the support and motivation of Team Zoe and the fantastic research project funded by Sparks that I have chosen to support through my challenge.’

Zoe was born three months premature weighing just 2lb 2oz and when she was diagnosed it was thought she would be unable to talk or be independent as well as being disabled.

She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy aged two and only learned to walk aged four and has only been walking flat-footed for the past five years after a life-changing operation to loosen her tendons.

Zoe has the life-limiting condition after being born three months premature weight just 2lb 2oz and being smaller than her father's wrist watch

Zoe has the life-limiting condition after being born three months premature weight just 2lb 2oz and being smaller than her father’s wrist watch

Zoe didn’t walk until the age of four, and used a wheelchair (left) and a special brace (right) until then. She has only walked flat-footed for the last five years

‘When I was really young I didn’t walk until the age of four and I would be blown over by the wind,’ she said.

The former pupil from New Malden, south London, was joined by family and friends in New York along with a team of runners from Deutsche Bank who helped her fund raise and also completed the race on Sunday.

The money raised will be used to fund a project researching the first ever treatment of foetal membrane damage, which can result in premature birth.

Before her London Marathon triumph in 2016, Zoe was unable to walk for more than 15 minutes without resting.

However her training before the event allowed her to average five miles of walking a day, something she managed to repeat in the US.

Zoe with Deutsche Bank workers Alex Wilson, left, and James Davies in New York

Zoe with Deutsche Bank workers Alex Wilson, left, and James Davies in New York

Her exertions in her first marathon led to a long recovery period and preparation for New York included lots of tough physiotherapy sessions to help build her endurance.

Elvira Morrison, Head of Sparks, says: ‘For many seriously ill children, research is their only hope, yet paediatric research is desperately underfunded. I’m constantly amazed by what Zoe and her Team have achieved, they’re all incredible.

‘The money raised will make a huge difference to finding new treatments and cures for children with complex and rare conditions throughout the UK.’

To sponsor Zoe please click here

 

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