Marathon Man

March 23, 2012 by David Weiner-Maccabi NSW
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Dr Terry Diamond’s initiative to run seven marathons (42 kilometres each) in seven days, will be fulfilled when he completes number seven at Bondi Beach on Sunday morning.

Terry Diamond

The ‘inspiration’ behind this ‘inspirational man’s’ journey is Terry’s desire to find a cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare and hereditary eye condition that leads to permanent and untreatable loss of sight.

Driven by the passion to restore 20/20 vision to sufferers by 2020, Terry, an Associate Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolic Bone Disease, came up with the idea of theEYECON Run –  a marathon a day, through seven of Australia’s most famous sites, to raise publicity and money for the cause.

“Blind people don’t have the opportunity to see these amazing icons, so this run will help us raise awareness of vision and blindness,” said Terry Diamond. “We’ll start early, running between 5am and 9am, partly in the dark, to portray some of the problems people with the condition have.”

22-year-old Pnina Kraus inspired Terry’s determination to find a cure – and set about making a difference.

“Pnina is 95 per cent blind, so courageous the way she goes through life with her friends, and uni,” Terry explained.

“At age 4 they said: you could go blind and there’s nothing we can do about it.

“I said: that’s bullshit. The time has come with advances in medicine, that stem cells should be able to cure this disorder. I started to phone around and no one is really doing anything much.”

Terry made some calls, got the support of eye groups across Australia who threw their support behind him and offered to raise money if a research program would be set up. Pnina has become the face of the campaign and the idea came to life.

Terry has undertaken an enormous commitment preparing for the challenge, but says “you’ve got to do something that motivates you, otherwise you can’t get your mind over the training that you have to do”.

He has been running twice a day, every day except Shabbat, building up to a program that saw him going on 15-20 kilometre runs before and after work, hitting the road at 4 in the morning.

He admits the last month has been tough, but his strength comes from his inspiration.

“Now all the hard work is paying off, but there were stages where you don’t see anything ahead of you,” Terry admitted.

“But I’d close my eyes while going running, running like you’re blind and reminding myself what the hell I’m doing it for.

“That would motivate for me.”

Terry says the support of the Jewish community has been “overwhelming” as he strives to reach the $100,000 mark from the run. To set up the research centre, they will need between $150-200,000.

“That’s been another big plus when you’re feeling low, you see your friends donating money, you see how supportive they are; they give you your confidence.

“The message of the EYECON run is being courageous and having commitment. Pnina portrays someone with a severe disability. The more I think about it, the more the message is ‘never say never’. Never say there’s nothing you can do, because there always is, no matter how small or insignificant you are, you can always make a big change to people’s lives.”

To donate, or read more about Terry’s adventure,  click on www.everydayhero.com.au/theeyeconrun .

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