Cheryl and Gary Stewart will tackle the Loch Ness Marathon this Sunday in the hope of running up a significant sum for Bobath Scotland, a cerebral palsy-focused organisation that has offered the Larbert couple and their toddler Amber invaluable help.
The three-year-old was diagnosed with the disability, which affects movement and posture, just before her first birthday, having been born ten weeks early along with her twin sister Harper.
The tot’s mum and dad felt compelled to sign up for this weekend’s event in Inverness due to the fact it coincides with World Cerebral Palsy Day.
Outlining the importance of the charity to her family, Cheryl said: “We quickly had to adapt to life which included daily therapy, hospital appointments and some very steep learning curves.
“Amber was lucky enough to be granted a fully-funded therapy block at Bobath Scotland last year.
“This came at a time when we were feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the support Amber needs.
“Bobath showed us how to bring all her therapy requirements together and incorporate it into everyday life.”
After realising that the Loch Ness Marathon and World Cerebral Palsy Day shared the same date, Cheryl said it “sealed the deal” for she and Gary to face up to the challenge.
She added: “We’re running the marathon in the hope we can give others like Amber access to the amazing therapists at Bobath Scotland.
“Amber loves coming to Bobath; the therapists make it so fun. It’s also been amazing for us as parents — the sessions give us confidence, skills and ideas to help Amber participate in things and to get Harper and Amber playing together.
“Amber loves stories and reading, and the therapists showed us how to incorporate that interest into the therapy.
“Although her biggest limitation is her upper limbs, within a few sessions at Bobath the therapists had Amber turning pages of a book by herself, which was such a great motivator for her.”
Cheryl and Gary will be joined by hundreds of other runners as they cross Ness Bridge in Inverness, which forms part of the marathon route.
In recognition of World Cerebral Palsy Day, Highland Council will turn the lights along the bridge green, a colour internationally associated to cerebral palsy.
A spokesperson for the council said: “We are delighted to be participating in World Cerebral Palsy Day’s global #GoGreen4CP campaign, which will see cities in 75 countries lighting their landmarks green to raise awareness of the condition.
“We are proud to support World Cerebral Palsy Day, and we wish Cheryl and Gary the best of luck for the marathon.”
Virginia Anderson, head of fundraising at Bobath Scotland, said: “We cannot thank Cheryl and Gary enough for committing to this marathon to raise money for us.
“We are really excited that they are undertaking this run on World Cerebral Palsy Day, which makes this challenge even more special.”
To donate to Cheryl and Gary’s fundraising campaign, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cheryl-stewart7.