Two local runners, Karen Jamison and Matthew Cromie, have been pounding the roads in support of Action On Hearing Loss.
Karen (46) and Matthew (26) both decided to support the local charity after experiencing hearing problems themselves.
Karen, from Newtownabbey, was diagnosed with hearing loss in her left ear six years ago.
“Initially I must say I was probably a bit embarrassed and certainly self-conscious about wearing a hearing aid,” she explained. “I wore my hair down, and although sometimes tried to do without it and left it at home, after a few days I realised I had grown dependent on it. Since then I can say I’ve certainly got used to it and don’t feel I’ve lost out on anything, in no way shape or form.”
Karen took up running several years ago in a bid to improve her general health. She is now a member of Mallusk Harriers and competes in races at least once a month.
“It’s been a whole health turnaround for me. Running clears my head and I love running where we live, near Hazelbank Park, or sometimes I even pack up and go over to Crawfordsburn,” she continued.
“Now that I’ve joined a club and I’m running for Action On Hearing Loss in various events, it pushes me on to do more, to do better, so I’d recommend anyone to get out there and just try it, it certainly works for me.”
Matthew, an apprentice gardener with Belfast City Council, contracted Meningitis twice when he was a child, leaving him with serious hearing problems. Now profoundly deaf, he wears hearing aids in both ears.
He secured his current job with the council after taking part in the Action On Hearing Loss pre-employment programme, which boosted his confidence, communications and customer service skills.
Through his contact with staff at Action On Hearing Loss, Matthew became aware that they were looking for people to fundraise by taking part in the Belfast City Marathon.
“I took part in a relay team for Action On Hearing Loss this year and couldn’t believe my time: 7.2 miles in 40 minutes! People were telling me that was really good for my first run, and I thought ‘maybe I should start running more often’,” he said.
The father-of-one, a member of Mallusk Harriers, now regularly competes in races, from 5k to half marathons.
“I really hope that younger Deaf people keep fighting for what they believe in and remember that people can and will help you, inspirational people are out there,” Matthew added.