Hayley McHenry contracted viral meningitis on holiday and spent two days in ICU before being transferred to a hospital in the UK. She recently took on the Great North Run to raise vital funds for people also affected by the disease.
Hayley said, "I decided to take part in the Great North Run for Meningitis Now because last year, in July, while I was on holiday in Turkey I caught viral meningitis and I ended up staying in intensive care there for two days. I then flew home and I was again admitted to hospital and stayed in hospital for a further three weeks.
"I had already signed up to the Great North Run 2015 however due to the circumstances, (and of course doctor’s orders) I had to drop out as there was only a few weeks left to go until race day.
"I followed Meningitis Now on Facebook and as soon as I saw that they were offering places in September for 2016 I knew it would be fitting to raise money for this charity!
"I’ve always been an on and off runner since I was young, but I had never done a half marathon before so I just built myself up over time. I live right near the beach so the scenery made it so much easier to go out for jogs, especially when the weather wasn’t the greatest.
"I took my 2 huskies out for jogs with me as well (not at the same time) and they loved it so they essentially guilt tripped me into going out for a lot of jogs, but I still loved every jog nonetheless! I also made a jogging playlist, downloaded the Endomondo App and just tried to beat my last distance every run by even just a few minutes each time.
"My favourite part of the event was definitely finishing it, I was absolutely exhausted. Although I was tired I think my favourite part being the ending was because of the atmosphere at the end.
"Everyone that is there is clapping, cheering and encouraging you to finish on a high, there’s music playing, family and friends meeting you at the end and you know that there is a leg massage waiting for you, and a pint!
"The thing that helped the most with my fundraising was setting up a page and sharing it frequently on social media. I also raised a lot of money offline as well so I would recommend from experience that if you know anyone who is having a party, order some donation tins and put them on the bar then when they do their speech ask them to briefly mention that there are donation tins there.
"My advice for anyone who would want to take part in the Great North Run for Meningitis Now, would be to train for it all year as much as you can because you have a purpose to go out for runs in the dark, the rain and the sun.
"People who have sponsored you believe that you can do it and there’s no better feeling on the day when you know you are prepared and don’t have to dread the 13.1 miles in front of you. Feeling nervous for it is a good thing but it just means that what you are doing is worthwhile.