Former Royal Marine Mick Woods was a keen runner until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of just 63.
Now his daughter Cara is following in his footsteps, taking on the Morrisons Great South Run to support her dad and other sufferers of the disease.
Cara, from Privett Road, Gosport, says Mick, now 68, is almost unrecognisable today from the independent, fit and active man he used to be.
Her dad used to make a point of running the Great South Run each year but now needs daily care from Cara, her sister Shannen and their mum Debbie.
Cara will be raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society when she joins the Southsea start line of the 10-mile event on Sunday, October 25.
She said her father’s diagnosis at such a young age had turned all the family’s lives upside down.
‘When he was diagnosed, it came as a massive shock to the whole family because he had always led such an active lifestyle and 63 is quite a young age to have the disease,’ said Cara, 23.
‘It’s hard to see the disease take his mind and then see the body go with it. It’s got to the point now where he walks like an old man and often can’t remember which room is his.’
Thanks to the support of the Alzheimer’s Society, Cara and her family have never felt alone in watching their father’s battle with the terrible disease and want to say thank you for the work the charity does.
‘We all find it extremely difficult to see how Alzheimer’s has affected him in such a small amount of time and we all do our best to help him,’ says Cara.
‘There’s not much you can do as it can’t be cured so this is just my way of giving something back to my mum who has spent a lot of time looking after him over the past six years.’
Cara, along with fiancé Luke, 25, have been training extra hard this year. She aims to beat her personal best of 1hr 34mins, after completing the 10-mile run for the past three years.
‘The Great South Run is extra special to me because my dad ran it nearly every year before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,’ says Cara, who will join up to 25,000 runners when the run marks its 25th year in Portsmouth this year.
‘Running it this year will keep the legacy going in our family.’
The Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia support and research charity, provides information, practical and emotional support to those affected, their friends and family.
‘The charity is very close to my heart because it really is all about the research. Unfortunately Alzheimer’s can’t be cured but the research they do goes a long way,’ says Cara.
The course of the Morrisons Great South Run takes in Portsmouth landmarks including HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, and ends with a final two miles along Southsea seafront.
Sponsor Cara at justgiving.com/Cara-Woods2
The Great South Run is the world’s leading 10-mile running event. Enter at greatrun.org/south