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Cousins run down £2,500 for dementia research

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TWO cousins – one from Warrington – raised more than £2,500 for dementia research by completing a charity running challenge after their grandparents died within months of each other.
Cath Willis and Jennifer Mehta were among the top fundraisers for Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Running Down Dementia initiative, which challenges people to run 100km between May and the end of October.
They were inspired to sign up for the challenge following the death of their grandfather Alf Brown in May from a heart attack which they believe was brought on by the stress of caring for their grandmother, Monica, who had Alzheimer’s.
Around three months later, she also passed away.
Cath, 35, from Chapelford, clocked up 229km and raised £1,605, while Jennifer, 38, from Leeds, ran 101km and raised £1,029.
As well as featuring highly in the individual leaderboards for fundraising, the duo were the fifth top team despite being up against running groups and corporate teams with dozens of members.
Jennifer said: “Our beautiful grandmother Monica went from being a very strong-willed, humorous and feisty lady, into a confused, frightened lady who no longer recognised her own family.
“Our handsome grandfather Alf spent the past few years caring for her and unfortunately with failing health himself, and the stress and turmoil of caring for his beloved wife, he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away.
“We as a family were absolutely devastated. We came to realise Alzheimer’s not only affects the person with the disease, but it greatly affects the people around them and it has a rippling effect throughout.”
Cath, a quality assurance administrator, said: “It was only when our grandfather went into hospital that we realised just how bad our grandmother had got.
“Looking after her was a 24-hour job. She’d get up in the middle of the night, put her clothes on and want to go out. My grandfather can’t have got any sleep. When he died she then went downhill very quickly.
“Running Down Dementia was great as it was something we could channel our grief into. It helped me take my mind off it while also feeling I was doing something positive.
“Hopefully a cure can be found as I don’t want my children to have to go through what we went through.”
Cath added: “I only got into running last year. I might have stopped running as my regular partner had given up, but Running Down Dementia helped keep me motivated.
“My grandmother passed away around the time I’d completed the 100km so I decided to keep going and did more than double that by the end of the challenge.”
Overall 4,062 runners, including 676 teams, signed up for Running Down Dementia this year, raising £247,000. Anyone interested in taking part in next year’s challenge can pre-register at www.runningdowndementia.org/register
Alzheimer’s Research UK has also launched a new initiative called Cycling Down Dementia, challenging people to ride either 300 or 1,000 miles before the end of January and raise £150. To sign up
go to www.cyclingdowndementia.org

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