A mother-and-daughter team will be taking on tomorrow’s Great North Run together.
Julie Thompson, of Marsden, South Shields, is set to push her daughter Jess around the 13.1-mile course in her wheelchair.
Jess, who turns 20 on the day, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a rare inherited condition that affects the body’s connective tissue.
The pair, with the help of Julie’s friend Kerry Barnett, are raising funds for the Charlie Cookson Foundation.
The charity was set up by couple Chris and Sarah Cookson in memory of their beloved son who lost his life after battling a series of health conditions.
It offers financial support to families with seriously ill children.
Julie, 47, said: “We’ve been supporting the charity for a few years. Jess thinks they’re amazing and wants to do whatever she can to raise money for them. She’s been in and out of hospital a lot herself and understands how hard it can be.”
Jess was diagnosed with EDS when she was 18, but took ill at the age of 14.
At 16, she was diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), an abnormal increase in heart rate caused by sitting up or standing, but when her joints began dislocating, they realised it was EDS.
Julie, who is Jess’ carer, said: “It’s a connective tissue disorder with affects the collagen that keeps all the joints in your body together.
“She can just be sitting still and her shoulder will dislocate, and she’s had problems with her hips, knees, ankles, ribs and fingers too.”
Jess becomes fatigued quickly and uses a wheelchair to get about, although she can get around using sticks in the house.
Julie said: “She’s a bit anxious because she’ll be in her chair and can get quite claustrophobic when there’s a lot of people around but she’s excited for it mostly.
“She’s going to walk the last little bit over the line so it’ll be quite emotional.”
Jess added: “I’m really excited, bit nervous, but it’s a great charity.
“They do something that no other charity does. As a family who has experienced what it’s like when someone is in and out of hospital we know how stressful it can be to pay the bills.
“It’s a great charity and I think Sarah and Chris are amazing people.”
To sponsor Julie and Jess, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com and search for ‘Zebra Warriors’s fundraising page’.