SUNDAY marked one small step for Kate Allatt and one giant leap of inspiration for stroke patients…
Kate completed an emotional ten-metre run in muddy Ecclesall Woods, accompanied by several dozen of her family, friends and well-wishers.
It was an achievement that has confounded the medics and inspired people across the globe.
A year before, to the day, the fit, 40-year-old mum of three was struck down by a major stroke. It left her in a coma, fighting for her life, unable to move anything but her eyes.
Doctors gave her a 50:50 chance of survival; even months after Kate’s collapse they predicted she might never walk again. But they didn’t bank on Kate’s iron will and Herculean courage.
First she willed her body to move, finger by finger, limb by limb. Then she taught herself to speak and to walk.
When she finally left hospital in October, she promised herself that she would mark the anniversary of her stroke by completing her first run, no matter how short – and this week she achieved that goal.
“It was an incredibly emotional day, even by my iron lady standards,” she said.
“Just putting on my running kit for the first time in a year made me cry… ”
Supported by a crowd of family and friends – many of whom had been with her through every painful step of her recovery – she returned to her favourite running route in Ecclesall Woods.
Then, supported by her personal trainer and her best friend, and filmed by husband Mark, she ran for the first time in more than 12 months.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. The day couldn’t have bee more special. Onwards and forwards now: I’m lucky.”
Kate’s courage has already inspired many others, through her Facebook blog. As a result of that she went to visit 27-year-old Michelle Wheatley, a fellow victim of Locked In Syndrome, who has lain helpless in a nursing home for three years.
Michelle’s parents were there to support Kate on Sunday, as were other stroke survivors who have been inspired by her story.
Now Kate plans to tell that remarkable story to the world: her book, Running Free, is due to be published in the spring.
She has also launched a new charity, Fighting Strokes, aimed at supporting victims aged under 60 and those who suffer from Locked In Syndrome.