Fibromyalgia suffer to complete Westminster Mile in aid of "invisible illnesses"
PUBLISHED: 17:11 10 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:23 20 April 2018
Stephanie Smith always dreamed of running in the London Marathon.
This long held ambition was part of her bucket list, something she always believed she would achieve.
However, six years ago these dreams were dashed as she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
The condition causes widespread pain throughout the body and has restricted Mrs Smith to a wheelchair when travelling distances over 50 metres.
The 47-year-old, who is from Lowestoft, said: “I always just put it off and put if off.
“Then I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia which has left me in a wheelchair.
“I thought I would never be able to do it – that I had missed my chance.”
Desperate to be part of the event, Mrs Smith wrote to the marathon organisers to see if she could complete the race using her electric wheelchair.
Mrs Smith said: “I received the usual response email explaining why I wasn’t allowed.
“But it had a little bit extra added – a personal invite to the Westminster Mile.”
The mile-long race from The Mall to Buckingham Palace was started as a legacy event after the 2012 Olympic Games and includes categories for all ages and abilities.
Now, Mrs Smith hopes to raise money and awareness for those suffering with “invisible illnesses” when she takes part in the event on Sunday, May 27.
She said: “I will be raising money for Fibromyalgia Association UK and the British Heart Foundation.
“As I have no visible disability I’ve been shouted at on buses before; telling me to move as there is clearly nothing wrong with me.
“I’ve been told I’m just faking it to get benefits.
“People shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
By taking part in the Westminster Mile she is hoping to increase understanding of her condition.
She added: “I’d rather you came up and asked me why I was in a wheelchair than make assumptions.”
Mrs Smith, who will complete the challenge alongside her carer, expressed her joy at being able to take part in such a prestigious sporting event and said: “I’m so excited that I can do this – it’s amazing.
“For some people doing a mile is nothing – it’s literally a walk in the park.
“But for me, to be part of such a highly publicised event in my wheelchair is amazing.”
To support Stephanie and donate visit: www.gofundme.com/westminster-mile-wheelchair-group