“The best feeling is crossing the finishing line and knowing what impact our run is going to have on children and their families.”
Chanel Alexander from Clackmannanshire was just 25 when she passed away due to complications with her Type 1 diabetes in November 2012. Like many teenagers living with the condition, Chanel struggled to come to terms with her diagnosis at the age of 14. It was a journey she shared with her family and her closest friends, who were naturally deeply affected by her passing.
In tribute to Chanel, her friends Vicky Brown, Cara Kane, Joanne O’Rourke, Justine Lyon, Kelly Whalen, Kerry McFarlane, Lillian Gray and Stef Black decided that they would raise funds for Diabetes UK Scotland by taking part in the Alloa Half Marathon as the “Alloa Ladies” team - 2014 is the second year they have tackled the event.
“(Chanel) struggled for many years to manage her diabetes,’’ says Vicky, who brought the team together. “Like all young adults diagnosed with Type 1, she experienced a lot of different emotions – for example, why her, what she could and couldn’t do, would type 1 ever be cured?
“After the acceptance of her diagnosis, Chanel decided to share her experience and attended the diabetes group in the Edinburgh area. She created forums online for people to share their stories about diet, insulin intake, exercise etc., and gave general support (for people living with Type 1) dealing with their emotions.
“She really was a caring individual, and was always trying to help others. Due to her health not being stable at times, she could never take a full time job – therefore, she always maintained that she would give something back to others in need of help, and not just with Diabetes. She spent a month in South Africa helping young children and families suffering from malnutrition, helped build homes, and encouraged the poverty stricken communities to unite as one,” adds Vicky
“She gathered everyone together to paint a mural, so they could go to the wall and reflect on life when they were low. Chanel was also a carer for her mother who suffers from ME, so whilst managing her own diabetes she was also supporting so many other people in many different ways.
Vicky and the Alloa Ladies Team decided to give something back in Chanel’s memory by running the Alloa Half Marathon in 2013 because they knew Diabetes UK was something she had been passionate about. They also decided to direct the funds they had raised to benefit a Scottish Family Support Weekend organised by Diabetes UK. Having raised a fantastic £963.88, they decided to take the event on again in March of this year.
“We knew she absolutely loved children and caring for young adults, and so we knew that specifically doing the run for this event would be something close to her heart. Because she was also trying to help other people with diabetes, we thought this is something she would be proud of, and never had the chance to do due to her own health issues.”
Although all of the members of the team have busy lives with work study and families of their own, they managed to find time to train for the Half Marathon and collect sponsorship through a Just Giving page set up in Chanel’s memory.
“The best feeling is crossing the finishing line and knowing the impact of our run is going to have on children and their families,” explains Vicky.
“The work Diabetes UK do for people is incredible. Having personally experienced it first-hand by attending the children and families event, and seeing the work they do to encourage people to interact and talk about their experience, and the help they receive from GPs and dieticians – it’s unbelievable. The weekend can make a massive impact on the future for the families and children. Fundraising is worthwhile, as it can change people’s lives for the better.”
The Alloa Ladies Team have already raised £523 this year. To read more of their story, or to sponsor the team, visit their online donations page:www.justgiving.com/ChanelRunners
If you have been inspired by the Alloa Ladies story and would like to find out more about raising funds for Diabetes UK Scotland, please contact the Fundraising Team on 0141 245 6380 or by email email@example.com.