Mum with a mission!
MOTHER-OF-TWO Karen Chaudhry pounds the streets and her treadmill with sheer determination to make a difference to other people s lives. She is training hard to make sure that she will be among the thousands of runners in next year s London Marathon who
MOTHER-OF-TWO Karen Chaudhry pounds the streets and her treadmill with sheer determination to make a difference to other people's lives.
She is training hard to make sure that she will be among the thousands of runners in next year's London Marathon who will be ploughing money into charity coffers across the country.
Karen, 39, of Isleham, has pledged her support to the Spinal Injuries Association, the official charity for the 2008 marathon.
In April, she crossed the finishing line in just over five-and-a-half hours and raised almost £2,500 for the charity in the 26-mile run.
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"People were dropping like flies in the heat, but once I'd crossed that line all I could think of is 'yes, I've done it,'" she said.
Karen is determined to raise money for the charity after seeing how her grandmother's life was completely changed when she suffered a spinal injury.
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She was a successful businesswoman, running her own engineering company and enjoying three holidays a year.
But returning from one of her trips, the car in which she was travelling was involved in a serious road crash, turning it over.
Karen's grandmother suffered a fractured spine which left her paralysed from the chest down.
She spent a year in hospital before being able to return home to a house which had been adapted to meet her needs.
In her late 60s and previously very active, she needed help with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing.
Determined not to move her bed downstairs, she used a stairlift and worktops in the kitchen were lowered to allow her to stay as independent as possible. A special car carried her wheelchair.
"She had lived a fairly full life," said Karen. "She took three holidays a year, including cruising, and owned her own business. But her accident clearly changed her life.
"Suddenly, being stuck at home was very difficult for her, with her family making sure she had everything she needed."
Karen's grandmother lived for six years after her accident, finally succumbing to a chest infection.
"I am fairly certain that if she hadn't been injured in the accident she could have gone on until she was 100," said Karen. "I don't think there is much history of illness in our family and she would certainly have probably lived a lot longer."
Karen, a specialist registrar in renal medicine, had spent many years in the Navy, including a seven-month tour of duty in the Falklands.
Despite being extremely fit, she disliked running and the thought of training for a 26-mile road race filled her with dread.
As she trained on freezing cold mornings while others were in bed, she realised the commitment needed for the challenge she had taken on.
Now a full-time mum with a five-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, Karen has had support from her family for her efforts.
"My daughter keeps a running log," she said, "and puts on her trainers and runs with me.
"I think, about two years ago, I loathed running with a vengeance. If someone had said run a mile I would have said 'no way'. Even in the Navy I would do only what was required when it came to running."
Now she has signed up for her second marathon and hopes other people will come forward to run for the charity.
She said: "It's a truly excellent cause. Imagine what a difference it would make if hundreds of people stepped up to raise the crucial funds they need for their amazing work.
"I wanted to run the marathon in memory of my gran. But I also want to raise money so that families and young patients, especially, can get the specialist help and support they need because life goes on even if you are paralysed," said Karen.
For more information about the work of the Spinal Injuries Association or how to take part in the charity's running events, contact the charity by phone on 0845 071 4350 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org