Meet the blind and epileptic woman running the London Marathon

Alex Gatenby

Dawn Gerrard is tackling the London Marathon today, despite being completely blind and suffering from epilepsy.

Her older brother Chris will run alongside the 31-year-old during the race. As he is fully sighted, Chris acts as a guide runner and is attached to Dawn by a strap, which enables her to feel when to change her pace and which direction to run in.

Based in Liverpool, Dawn was born with a genetic condition she inherited from her father who is also blind, called Aniridia.

The condition causes part of the eye to be under-developed and led to a number of other eye conditions.

After losing vision in her right eye at the age of four, due to an infection caught at hospital, she was left with limited vision in her left eye. At 15 she lost her sight completely and is now part of the 3 per cent of people who cannot see direct sunlight.

At 17, Dawn was diagnosed with epilepsy and suffers from three different types of seizures, which can sometimes take days to recover from.

Dawn and Chris are running for Guide Dogs, a charity extremely close to her heart.

Having had guide dogs since 2012 and with Dawn working as a Community Fundraiser for the organisation, Dawn and Chris want to give something back to the charity that has helped her so much.

In the UK there are 5,000 working guide dogs but huge waiting lists for the trained animals. An average guide dog costs £50,000 to train up to a professional standard.

“I wanted to give something back to the Guide Dog charity to say a big thank you, and why not do it with my older brother”, Dawn said.

Having done 95 per cent of her training on a treadmill, Dawn says running without sight can be extremely challenging:

“On the treadmill if I am not holding on, I might not be running in the right direction and can bash into the sides.

"I’ve actually fallen off the back of it a few times”.

If you would like to donate to Dawn and Chris’ cause, click here.

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