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Welder John Targets £5K For Fundraising Race

A JCB welder and his three-year-old daughter are building a strong local fan club as they pound the pavements together in preparation for their first ever fundraising race –the 40th Stafford Half Marathon.

John Dabbs and daughter Emmie, who was born with a rare genetic condition which means she cannot walk or talk, will be under starter’s orders for the March 17th race aiming to raise £5,000 for Emmie’s school, Greenhall Community Special School in Stafford.

The pair have become a familiar sight around the streets of Stafford and John’s home village of Gnosall, near Stafford, with Emmie in a specially adapted running pushchair, having last year completed almost 900 miles.

Now John, 39, who works at the JCB Cab Systems factory in Uttoxeter, has decided to put their weekend training runs to good use by entering local races to raise funds for new sensory equipment and family outings at the school which has given Emmie a new lease of life.

John explained:

“When Emmie was born we quickly realised that she was not meeting development milestones and she was diagnosed with Global Development Delay. She is still undergoing tests at Birmingham Children’s Hospital but since starting at Greenhall School it’s been brilliant and she is making progress."

“Last year I started running with her and our dog Buddy, and now it’s the highlight of our weekends. Pushing Emmie’s buggy and running is quite a challenge but we love being out in all weathers and I’m her legs so she gets the freedom she deserves.”

For John, running has also become a mental health lifeline as he continues to come to terms with the death of his son Marcus in 2010 from a rare rhabdoid cancer at the age of just 18 months.

He added: “Life sometimes feels a hard battle and running each weekend gives us a purpose and helps me cope with things. Emmie absolutely loves it and it really keeps up our spirits when people beep and wave as we pass them on the streets in Stafford. People even stop me when I’m shopping in Tesco and say they’ve seen us out and about, and little things like this make a massive difference."

“So if you see one man and a little girl running around the town with a little dog then give us a beep or a wave! And if anyone would like to support our fundraising that would be amazing.”

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