The co-founder of a spinal injury charity shed a tear when a teenager who was left paralysed after an operation to remove a tumour in her lung walked across the finishing line at the Miami Half Marathon.
Andy Uttridge, who set up the Rooprai Spinal Trust (RST) with his partner Marrianne, admitted that he “had something in his eye” when he saw Ellie Dean complete the race without her wheelchair.
Ellie, 18, who has been supported by RST to have an extended stay in Florida, left her wheelchair a mile from the end of the race to make her own way to the finish.
Andy, who lives in Royston, said: “As a fellow Herts resident, helping Ellie was close to our heart. She is a hardworking, determined young lady.
“Making the decision to get out of her wheelchair and walk for the last mile of the race shows what a remarkable girl she is.
“Every spinal cord injury is different, but everybody needs goals individual to them to strive for. This was one of Ellie’s goals and she smashed it. Now on to the next one.”
Ellie, from Great Ashby, was just 14 when it was discovered she had a growth in her lung. She had an emergency operation to remove it, but complications meant she lost a lot of blood and she was placed into an induced coma.
The lack of blood to her spinal cord meant she was left paralysed from the waist down.
The talented artist was forced to adapt quickly to her new circumstances to be able to study for her GCSEs.
She is now taking time out of her studies to concentrate on her physio with the aim of becoming stronger and more independent.
The teenager is currently spending an intense six-month trip in Miami to work with the NeuroFit 360 team, funded by the RST and the Frenkel Topping Foundation.
She said: “I wouldn’t have been here now taking part without the help of RSTrust, who have always been there supporting me. They have helped put me in touch with some truly amazing people too.
“It was an amazing experience. I was so overwhelmed by everyone’s encouragement and support on the day.
“I’m so proud of my physiotherapist Guy Romain, funded by the Rooprai Spinal Trust (RST), who did a brilliant job. He ran and helped push me 12 miles before I walked the last mile with my frame while he stood by me supporting me all the way to the finishing line.”