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West Hampstead woman runs marathon for brothers diagnosed with incurable disease

PUBLISHED: 17:00 22 September 2014

Gemma Cooper. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Gemma Cooper. Picture: Polly Hancock.

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A West Hampstead woman has run a marathon to support two young brothers diagnosed with an incurable degenerative disease.

Parents Nick Taussig and Klara Cecmanova with Theo and Oskar.Parents Nick Taussig and Klara Cecmanova with Theo and Oskar.

Personal assistant Gemma Cooper, of West End Lane, ran the Farnham Pilgrims Marathon, in Surrey, yesterday to raise money for Harrison’s Fund, a charity aimed at finding a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The 30-year-old was inspired to take on the 26-mile challenge by her friend Nick Taussig, a novelist and film producer whose two sons Theo, three, and nine-month old Oskar were both diagnosed with the disorder in June.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic condition which causes muscle degeneration and leaves most sufferers wheelchair-bound by the age of 12.

It progressively weakens the respiratory system and heart resulting in the sufferer’s premature death, usually before or during their 30s.

Gemma said: “I don’t have children myself but have a niece and four nephews under the age of five and can’t even begin to imagine what Nick and his wife, Klara, are going through.

“Theo and Oskar are such amazing children: Although I may not be able to raise thousands, I have run two marathons before and know how tough they can be, especially on your own, so I offered to run with Nick and support him along the way.”

Gemma, who has trained hard for the marathon around Hampstead Heath and Regent’s Park, is aiming to raise £1,000 for the fund.

The charity was set up in 2011 by Alex and Donna Smith after their son, Harrison, was diagnosed with the disease.

It raises money to support world-leading researchers working to find a cure.

Mr Smith said: “Everyone has been so moved by Nick’s story. To have your sons diagnosed with Duchenne is heartbreaking. It brings me back to the moment I found out about Harrison.

“Both Nick and Gemma are doing great with their fundraising but every penny counts to a small charity like ours.

“So please continue to show your support and help us to find a cure for Duchenne so boys like mine and Nick’s have a chance of a 
future.”

If you wish to support Gemma’s efforts, visit justgiving.com/G-Cooper

For more information about Harrison’s Fund, visit harrisonsfund.com.

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