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Inspirational Jodie to dedicate funds raised by her 250th Armagh Park Run to RNIB

'We had been looking for a challenge to keep Jodie going through the New Year as many of her support systems and groups have still not returned...My mum has no eyesight, so we know the barriers that she has had to face and what she has overcome'

A young Darkley woman has set herself the target of completing 250 Park Runs to raise money for the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

Jodie O’Connor, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of five, has, along with mum Bernie, been a regular attending the Park Run at the Palace Demesne in Armagh for the past seven years.

Last year, Jodie was the winner of the Armagh I Inspirational Young Talent Award after she took up walking and gradually challenged herself more and more, resulting in over 400 miles walked while raising money for a number of charities.

Jodie completed a marathon in 13 days, following her slogan ‘Doing it My Way’ and raised over £1,700 for the Southern Area Hospice.

However, speaking to Armagh I, her mother Bernie revealed that Jodie has not been resting on her laurels and has kept on moving throughout 2021.

“We have been keeping her at it. She has been walking, running and fundraising to do her bit,” she said. “Money has been raised for 11 different charities in 2021.

“Each month we would set her another challenge and we would see charities who needed help.”

The most recent charity chosen by Jodie is the Royal National Institute of Blind People, and she has set herself the target of completing 250 Park Runs in order to raise £250.

“I had noticed the RNIB had asked people to take on 250 of a challenge of their choice to raise money,” explained Bernie. “We had been looking for a challenge to keep Jodie going through the New Year as many of her support systems and groups have still not returned.”

This is a mean feat for any avid runner; Jodie has completed 243 Park Runs to date and hopes to reach her target in the coming months.

But the cause is a much more personal one and close to home for the O’Connor family.

“My mum has no eyesight, so we know the barriers that she has had to face and what she has overcome,” said Bernie.

“It has had a major impact on her life. It really makes you think about the things you take for granted.”

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