Brave James aiming to become a record-breaker in city marathon
A Lucan boy is set to become the youngest person to ever complete the Dublin marathon in a wheelchair.
James Casserly (10), who has cerebral palsy and juvenile arthritis, is working with trainer Mark Lacey ahead of the famous race.
The pair are raising money for Barretstown, which is a charity close to James's heart as he spent time there last year.
"Mark came up with the idea [of doing the marathon] and I agreed. My uncle ran it before and I was at the finish line," said James.
"My favourite part of training in the Phoenix Park is going for a hot chocolate afterwards.
"We met Bressie on the first run but I was so starstruck I couldn't speak," he added.
"Barretstown is such a special place. It's so magical and the people are so nice," he said.
His mum Vicki Casserly said: "There's not a day that goes by that Barretstown doesn't come out of his mouth, he just loves it. It gave him great confidence and independence."
"You always hear that kids forget that they're sick when they're there, but they really do.
"The memory of Barretstown keeps him going on days when he's not finding it easy, so I think it's really touching that it's the charity he wants to give back to."
Sports-mad James was diagnosed with idiopathic juvenile arthritis a little over 12 months ago, after he was hospitalised for three weeks.
The condition affects many of his joints and causes intense pain and tiredness.
His treatment hasn't been working as well as his family expected.
"He's usually very upbeat, but before Christmas he got a bit down and we went to buy a foam roller from Mark Lacey in Insanity Fitzone. Mark offered to work with him, to help James get back on his feet and build up his strength again.
"The two of them really hit it off," his mum said. "It's really important for James that sport is inclusive. It's a way for him to show people that he is a little boy who likes to do things too.
"The support locally has been amazing. He feels like a little rock star going around Lucan."
Local gym owner Mark works with James on two fronts - he does strength and conditioning training with him to help ease the symptoms of his arthritis and the pair train regularly in a bid to build up their stamina for the marathon.
Mark will push James in his wheelchair the 42km of the race and a team of runners - known as Team James - will also run the race with the duo.
Since Christmas the pair have been training twice a week for the event.
"We do a long run of between 10km and 20km with him in his wheelchair buggy," Mark said.
"We're going out to see how comfortable it is for him going the distance.
Team James are now hoping to recruit more runners to help them hit their fundraising goal of €10,000.
"They'll get a race pack, a race signet and a full training plan for their marathon prep," Mark said.
Anyone who wants to sign up can email firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate people can find the team on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/438615526347154/