Oct 24 2008 by Laurie Stocks-Moore, Chester Chronicle
A Hell of a way to help Abbie
A 12 MILE run up and down forest terrain is aiming to make one woman’s dream come true.
A dozen men and women will tackle the Hellrunner to raise money to buy a customised, lightweight wheelchair for 27-year-old Abbie Johns, of Buckingham Avenue, Vicars Cross.
Abbie suffered from Viral Encaphalitis in 2005 and ever since has been confined to a wheelchair, unable to stand or walk unaided.
On Sunday, November 2, the group will travel to Delamere Forest to attempt the gruelling challenge.
Abbie’s dad Tim Johns, 51, is amongst the colleagues and friends taking part.
He said: “Abbie worked in the University of Chester as a student co-ordinator.
“At the end of 2004 there was a massive outbreak of mumps at the university.
“All female students were offered the MMR vaccine and Abbie was responsible for getting the students to sign up. She had the vaccine herself just before Christmas and over Christmas she was very ill.
“The doctor thought she had an infection because she had headaches and trouble standing.
“On January 1, 2005 it turned out she had viral encaphalitis. The part of the brain that sorts out balance and co-ordinates eye and hand movements swelled up. We don’t know if it was mumps or the vaccine.
“Since then, she lost her balance and co-ordination and has been in a wheelchair.
“We hoped at some point she wouldn’t need a chair but now we realise she is going to need one for the rest of her life.”
Abbie has returned to the university as an administrator, working three days a week.
But her mother has to take her to the campus by taxi to ensure she can get in and out safely.
Tim added: “The chair we got with the national voucher system is 18 months old but it’s falling to bits. Screws keep falling out and we think we were badly advised.
“It’s not self propelled so needs someone to push it.
“Abbie wants to try to drive again so she’ll need to get herself mobile.The idea is to get a light wheelchair made of aluminium or titanium which she can get in and out of a car.”
The multi-terrain event has a variety of underfoot conditions, including everything from running tracks and trails to water-filled areas and steep hills.
Tim added: “I’ve been out running every other night trying to get fit. I’m not sure it’s quite enough!
“We’ll be running it as fast as the slowest person. It’s probably going to take quite a while.”
To join them and enter at a cost of £22, log on to: http://www.hellrunner.co.uk/hellupnorth.htm
Alternatively, let them do the hard work and sponsor the team online at: teamabbie.jungledog. co.uk