Oct 29 2009 By Charlene Mitchell
A KIND-hearted family friend is putting himself through a gruelling marathon to raise money for the Down's Syndrome Association.
Ben Fitzgerald, 29, of Manningtree Road, South Ruislip, decided to take part in the New York Marathon on Sunday November 1 after his close friends' baby was born with Down's syndrome.
Mark, 39, and Kirsty Turner, 31, from Iver, already had a four-year-old daughter when Kirsty gave birth to Maisie five months ago.
Mr Fitzgerald said: "I have always wanted to do a marathon, but I wanted to do something a bit different so I choose the New York one. I was already planning to run it before Maisie was born, but it was then that I decided to do it for the Down's Syndrome Association.
"I didn't know how Mark and Kirsty would feel about it but when I asked them they were over the moon and said they were behind me 100 per cent. Before Maisie was born I didn't know anyone with Down's syndrome and I didn't know a lot about it, so there's probably a lot of other people out there that don't know much about it either. Therefore, as well as raising money, I also want to raise awareness of the condition."
Mrs Turner said: "We didn't know that Maisie had Down's syndrome until after she was born and with Ben doing this, it has helped us to talk about the situation a bit more openly.
"He is doing this all off of his own back and another friend of ours has set up a website for Maisie so we can continue raising money on a regular basis. It's really nice to have our friends supporting us."
This is the first ever marathon and charity event Mr Fitzgerald has taken part in and he is aiming to raise £2,000.
He said: "The support I have had from everyone has been immense. I've been training for 10 weeks and the furthest I have run in training is 20 miles. I aim to finish it in four and a half hours, but to be honest, I'm not bothered about my time because that's not why I'm doing it.
"My knees are a bit dodgy at the moment, but if they hold up I will be okay."