In amongst the thousands of participants at Run Melbourne this year, Jimmy McCowan will be taking part with his daughter, Lucy.

Jimmy made the decision to run 21.1km with Lucy in the pram to raise awareness and funds for Kids Plus Foundation after she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after being born. We spoke with Jimmy about how training is coming along and their story so far.

How did you first come to using Kids Plus’ services?

After we first found out of a likely diagnosis of cerebral palsy for Lucy we were obviously a bit shell shocked. Fortunately, we have the most supportive family who immediately put the feelers out and did their own research to find what could help us on our new journey. Lo and behold our family found this wonderful service right here in Geelong that focuses on kids with cerebral palsy. Not knowing what to expect or how to integrate in with Kids Plus, we gave them a call and promptly had an assessment booked the following week.

What difference has it made for Lucy so far?

Heaps! When we first met with Kids Plus as part of Lucy’s therapy program, Lucy had a very stiff right side; specifically her right hand and arm were almost always flexed in tight next to her body with very little engagement in activities. After our first session of therapy we noticed within a couple of days that Lucy had started utilising her right hand in play. You cannot imagine the relief that this gave us, to think we were on the right track and already seeing Lucy progress. After only six months working with Kids+ Lucy is now crawling and climbing up our stairs at home, keeping us very busy.

What made you decide to take part in Run Melbourne?

Kids+ has helped us in a way that is very hard to communicate to those who have not required their services. Knowing that the program Lucy is involved in is funded by donations, until we can get an NDIS plan, was such a relief as there has been no cost to us despite receiving therapy twice and three times a week. I really wanted to make sure that this service would be available to all future families who stumble into this new world.

I chose Run Melbourne as I have been trying to start running with my sister in law for some time now but never had the time (or motivation) to follow her. Whilst discussing fundraising with her she found that Run Melbourne allows prams for the whole event. So after signing up Lucy and myself I went out and bought some new running shoes.

Have you done an event like this before?

I did the Run Geelong event a few years ago, in which I ran the 6km event, and nearly collapsed at the finish line. I can honestly say that my training has me running more than I ever have before.

How is your training going so far?

Once I signed up I wanted to fully commit and do it properly so I researched a few training plans and came across the Hansons Method for the Half Marathon. After reading this book I was inspired to follow it through. The concept of this training is the idea of cumulative fatigue in which reduced rest days causes the fatigue in your legs to build up, so that when you go on your runs and start with tired legs you are essentially training for the end of the race.

I thought this was a great idea until about half way through when I realised that the cumulative fatigue in my legs was being compounded by the cumulative fatigue of shift work and a 12 month old baby who doesn’t sleep a whole lot. After some mild injuries and illnesses which slowed my training a bit I am now straight back into it and enjoying it as much as I can.

What message would you like to give those who support your fundraising with the event?

I have been completely humbled by the support and generosity we have received from our friends, family and wider community. I can’t thank those who have supported the fundraising enough. I hope that those who have supported us rest easy in the knowledge that they have supported a very worthy cause. Kids Plus have brought joy and comfort to countless families and their children, at a time when life has taken an unexpected turn.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would love to add that after attending countless appointments at Kids Plus, I have seen kids who are wheelchair bound, kids requiring extensive support to walk and those who have walked in independently wearing leg splints. One thing that they all have in common is the smiles on their faces when they see their therapists. To these kids the therapists aren’t just therapists, they are friends and family.

I would also like to thank a few people who have supported this fundraising. My wife, Felicity, and her brother and sister in law, Simon and Tracey, started “Playing for Palsy” while busking at the Bannockburn Craft Market to raise funds. My little sister Bonnie ran a successful bake day at her work. And my mother in law, Wendy, is organising a “Playing for Palsy” fundraising concert up in Shepparton as the founder of Goulbourn Valley Concert Orchestra.

Jimmy undertakes Run Melbourne on 27 July.  Find out more and donate to Jimmy’s GoFundMe here.