Student tackles great north run

11th May 2016

A student from Hereford is tackling this year’s Great North Run as part of her fight back from meningitis

Keeley Whitehead
Keeley Whitehead, 29, a forensic science and anthropology student at the University of Central Lancashire, who contracted meningitis and encephalitis in August 2011, will tackle the half-marathon event to raise awareness of the disease and funds for us.

Meningitis left Keeley with mobility issues and for the first three years of her recovery she has been a wheelchair user. She is still largely confined to a wheelchair, although recently she’s started walking with sticks for short distances when she can. Keeley plans on completing the course through a combination of wheelchair and walking with sticks.

“This is by far my biggest challenge to date,” Keeley said. “Meningitis left me with an acquired brain injury which causes difficulties including memory loss, lack of concentration, blurred vision, sensitivity to sound and lights and severe fatigue.”

Feeling determined

“I struggle to walk a couple of hundred yards on walking sticks so tackling 13.1 miles is going to be gruelling.”

“But I’m determined to do it and give something back to Meningitis Now, for all their help and also feel it is extremely important to raise awareness of the symptoms.”

“If my participation and pain helps save one other life then I’ve done my job!”.

Keeley is preparing for the event, which takes place in Gateshead on Sunday 11 September, by attending the gym and learning to swim again. She’s also recently completed a 5k colour run with members of the Meningitis Now Society – the only such university society in the county – that she set up at university, raising £130. Other charity events are planned throughout the summer.

We are all individuals

“I just want people to remember disability does not define us as a person,” Keeley added. “We are all still individuals and we will not be beaten by meningitis.”

Keeley has set herself a fundraising target of £300. To support her in her efforts visit her fundraising page here.

Rachel Oakley, our Events Fundraiser, said: “We’d like to thank Keeley for this fantastic effort and all she does to support our work. Her efforts will make a real difference to those who are at risk from meningitis and those whose lives have already been changed forever because of it.”