Annette To Run London Marathon To Raise Awareness Of Rare Disease

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Annette O'Donnell, who is running this year's London marathon in aid of the PSP Association. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

Annette O’Donnell, who is running this year’s London marathon in aid of the PSP Association. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

A LEITH-WEST woman is looking to raise awareness of a rare degenerative disease by running the London marathon in April and holding a 70s disco fundraiser in town next week.

Annette O’Donnell has taken it upon herself to raise awareness for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) which is similar to, but a much rarer condition than motor neurone disease (MND) and therefore not as well known.

Both her father Trevor and uncle David contracted MND. David passed away seven years ago because of the disease and her father Trevor died of a heart attack before the condition really took hold.

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One of Annette’s nephews has since been diagnosed with MND. “I met him last September, at that point he lost use of one of his legs, now three months on, has lost use of his legs and is gradually getting worse,” said Annette.

The average lifespan with someone with MND is around 18 months. With PSP it can be up to seven years. In 2014, MND got huge exposure and millions was raised for research into the disease through the ‘ice-bucket-challenge’.

The mother of four has been selected to run the London Marathon in April for the PSP Association. Annette is also putting on an 70’s themed disco in the Abbey Inn on Friday, January 15 in aid of the charity (more details of disco below).

“I’m looking forward to it, I’ve done a few 10k runs and I hike so I’m hoping I’ll be able for it,” she said.

Currently, Annette’s daughter Sarah, once an employee of the Imperial Hotel, is looking after her friend Yvonne Williams who is suffering from PSP in the UK.

PSP is a neurological condition caused by the premature loss of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain. Over time this leads to difficulties with balance, movement, vision, speech and swallowing.

Annette is a native of Leicester, but has lived in Kerry for 29 years raising a family with her husband James, who also hails from the East Midlands city, but whose parents were from Camp and Lyreacrompane.

Annette’s children, Micheal, Katie, Sarah and Christopher were all raised in Tralee and all ex-pupils of Listellick National School.

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