A KNOWLE teenager who has defied the odds her whole life is preparing to take on the London Marathon.
Imogen Rowe’s parents were told she may never walk when she was diagnosed with dyspraxia as a child but despite this she has battled through and is preparing to clock up the miles around the capital on April 23.
The 18-year-old was also diagnosed with keratoconus in October 2013, which causes the cornea to thin and bulge into a cone like shape, inevitably reducing and distorting vision, and has limited vision in her right eye leaving her unable to drive and seeing things from a distance is a challenge.
Imogen has had surgery which halts the progression of the keratoconus but at present there is no cure.
Despite these challenges Imogen is hoping to raised £3,500 for Fight for Sight, the eye research charity which is close to her heart.
Speaking ahead of the race the former Arden School pupil said: “It will probably be the biggest and most daunting running challenge I will ever face and I’m sure such an incredible experience.
“I’m delighted to be running for a very worthwhile and personal cause, Fight for Sight, the eye research charity which means a lot to me.”
Fight for Sight funds pioneering eye research to prevent sight loss and treat different eye conditions in adults and children and each year, it provides a range of funding opportunities for research teams based in the UK.
Dyspraxia is a condition that affects different aspects of Imogen’s life including coordination, speech, fine and gross motor skills and balance.
Her poor balance and low muscle tone meant she was unable to sit up when she should have been progressing and her twin brother was walking and talking before her.
After going through a lot of physiotherapy and with a lot of determination she first started to sit up and then walk and run.
She said: “I believe my tenacity with running and with other challenges I face stems from those early days.
“Having this difficulty has made me ambitious, strong willed and able to persevere when times get tough.
“Running has proved to be very beneficial to my mental health; it gets me through some dark times in my life, so to have the big challenge of the marathon to train for has been a good focus and distraction from other tough situations in my life.
“It has been quite challenging to go out sometimes in the cold and dark, but those feel-good endorphins when I get back are always worth it.
“As the miles build up it is getting tougher and tougher physically and mentally, but I know all this training will pay off, and the thought of race day as well as the charity and everyone supporting me is motivating me to carry on.”
Imogen has hosted a number of fundraising events for Fight for Sight; organising including a coffee morning, raffle and tombola.
She added: “It has been fun and, in addition, I have met new people through it and have chatted to people I normally wouldn’t otherwise, which has been great.
“It has really brought out the best in people and I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s support.”
For more or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/icerowe98