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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C

Father vows to run marathon while pushing daughter in wheelchair

Keith Russell was blown away by the support his family received and now wants to raise money for a respite centre in Meath.

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KEITH RUSSELL WAS blown away by the amount of support his family received when fundraising to renovate their home to make it accessible for their disabled daughter.

Alanna (7) has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, she doesn’t have any movement in her arms or legs and can’t talk.

The family, based in Navan, Co Meath, raised €70,000 over the course of 18 months and received a grant of €30,000 from the local council to fund the renovations.

They are currently staying in rented accommodation while their house is being renovated. They hope to move back home later this year.

Keith (34) tells the reaction to the family’s campaign was “absolutely amazing” and they wanted to give something back.

He now plans to run the Dublin Marathon in October, while pushing Alanna in her wheelchair, to raise funds for The Meadows Children’s Respite Service, where Alanna stays over once or twice a month. The centre helps 70-80 families.

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The money raised will go on upgrading the centre’s wheelchair-accessible bus.

Keith says Alanna is “a very outgoing girl and she loves to meet new people”.


“At the end of last year I decided I was going to run the marathon this year. We didn’t need to raise any more money so we wanted to raise money for someone else.

We received so much help and met so many fantastic people in that year-and-a-half that we have decided we want to give back to another charity.

Keith says his training is “going well” and he and Alanna have taken part in a number of smaller races. Initially he was tilting Alanna’s normal wheelchair back and pushing it while running.

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He has since received a specialised wheelchair from Team James – a project that saw Mark Lacey push 10-year-old James Casserly in the Dublin Marathon last year, raising €45,000 for charity.

Keith says this has made the process much easier. However, it’s obviously still very difficult as he can’t use his arms for momentum.

Keith, a member of Navan Athletics Club, previously played football but says he had to give it up to help look after Alanna.

“I will push Alanna the full 26.2 miles on my own. It will be my first ever marathon and I get to share it with Alanna.”

More information about the campaign and how you can donate is on the Team Alanna Facebook page.

Read: ‘Organs could be grown in pigs for transplants’: Scientists eye breakthrough

Read: An Irish Independence Day? Enda says we already have our day on 17 March

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