TEACHER Dave Fernandez has bounced back from a devastating illness to be on the point of running marathons.
Just 14 years ago, the 39-year-old from Rossington in Doncaster was struck by a stroke, at the age of just 26.
He was in his first year as a newly qualified teacher at the time when the stroke hit on New Year’s Day, 1997.
But now he has amazed his friends and doctors by recovering to the point that, this Sunday, he will be lining up to run more than 26 miles in the London Marathon.
Initially, he found it difficult to even walk and talk.
But after receiving courses of physiotherapy and speech therapy, he has made what medical experts believe is an excellent recovery.
He will run the race on Sunday to raise money for The Stroke Association, which helped him after he was affected by the illness.
Dave is thrilled to be taking part in Sunday’s big event, which is one of the biggest races of its kind in the world.
He said: “I still have a slight disability to the right side of my body and my speech isn’t quite as it was – it’s unique!
“After my stroke, I just focused on recovering and I met my wife a year later.
“We’ve now been married 11 years and have three sons.
“I had no doubts that I would return to teaching and I’ve taught in six schools since my stroke.
“I couldn’t run properly until 2009, but once I knew I could and began to enjoy it.
“I decided to do a marathon, to prove I can and to help pay back the people who helped me recover.
“I’m now training four or five days a week.”
He decided to go ahead and enter the marathon after his sister took part in the race a year ago.
Since then he has joined Tickhill Running Club.
He has also done some serious training for the race. He had already passed the 19 mile mark in his training runs.
And last month he took park in the Liverpool half marathon, completing it in an impressive two hours 11 minutes.
Dave is hoping to collect at least £100 during the race, and supporters have already pledged more than £400 in sponsorship.
According to the Stroke Association, around a quarter of strokes happen to those under 65 years, with around 1,000 a year happening to people aged under 30.
A stroke is a brain attack which occurs because of a clot or a bleed in the brain, causing brain cells to die.
One person has a stroke every five minutes in the UK.
n Log on to www.justgiving.com/DavidFernandez to sponsor Dave.