David Fry, 26, of North Cheam, London, works full-time as a communications and fund-raising assistant and receptionist for learning disabilities charity United Response. He has a learning disability and epilepsy and enjoys fund-raising
“I’ve always liked sport,” he says. “My first job was as a cleaner for Fulham Football Club. I got to meet lots of famous faces. I saw the games and met the players. My friend Yosief lives in a house with support from United Response. He is in a special needs football team. I had a trial and then got involved. But football was very tiring so I got into running to be competitive.
I started fund-raising in 2004. I did a fun run around Hyde Park it was the London 10k. The run was sponsored and I decided to run it for United Response because it’s a good cause. There was an advert in the paper for the run and I looked on the website about it. I didn’t know I was going to do it but it looked easy. When I actually did the run it was hard!
One of my colleagues, Chris Browne, gave me tips for the run. He has done the London Marathon. He told me how to look after myself and prepare. Chris said I needed to eat protein when I was training. One time I had a blackout when I was playing football with friends. I had only eaten cereal I wasn’t looking after myself properly. At the gym I would use the treadmill to train. I’d do two hours a week, Monday to Friday. I did a month’s worth of training for the run.
The run was on a Saturday and when I woke up that morning I felt terrible. Felt like something was going to happen, like I was going to get cramp. At the start of the race I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to do because there were thousands of people there.
My mum and dad had come to watch me run because I was shy. When I told my mum I was doing the sponsored run she said, ‘Do you really want to do it?’. I said ‘Yes’ and they supported me. It took me 3hr40min to do the race and I raised £400. My friends, family and colleagues all sponsored me. The day of the race was very hot and I was sweating. The crowd got behind me and people were cheering me on.
When I saw the finish line I thought ‘I’m nearly finished. I’m really glad’. My feet were killing me. I was dizzy and so tired. I just wanted to get over the line and get the medal. Doing it was a big achievement. When I got the medal I held it really tight in my hand. My parents said congratulations.
After that I did the London 10k run in May 2005. This time I did it with my colleague, Brenda Rosendale. It was really good having someone from work with me. I told her, ‘If I can achieve it, so can you’. It took me 3hr25min this time. I raised £350 for United Response.
In June 2006 I did the Walk for Life. It was 10K and I raised £250. It took me eight hours because I got really lost. The walk was through central London. We walked past the London Eye and Big Ben. It was nice to see the sights and make friends with people. I raised money for people with HIV. On telly I’d seen how many people had been dying of Aids and I wanted to help.
The walk was much harder than I expected. I thought it would be easier on my body because it was walking. It was a humid day and I thought it’d be cooler. I was fast walking and really thirsty. My family came to watch me, I was pleased. It’s nice when people encourage you. When I finished I got a certificate.
I did the Walk for Life again in June this year. It took me three hours – I didn’t get lost this time. When I finished I was 100th out of 5,000 people. I raised £202 and felt very proud. I did the walk again because eventually I want to do the London Marathon. Maybe I’ll do it in April 2008.
When you look at most of the runners you think that it is too difficult to do. But if you want to do something then just go for it. Just because you have special needs it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. If you’ve got something you want to do to raise money for charity, then speak to someone who can help organise it.
I feel proud of myself for raising money. It has been for good causes and helped other people. I have also helped myself.”
This article appeared in the 13 September issue under the headline “Running totals”