A BALLYMONEY lady is set to be the face of Macmillan Cancer Support at this year's Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.
Arlene Pettinger of Cloneen Drive will feature alongside models Cathy Waddell and Orla Smyth, on bill boards, leaflets and posters throughout the world to promote the 30th year of the marathon.
For many years Arlene has completed marathons in Belfast, Dublin and New York in memory of her little girl Lisa. However this year will be her 11th marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support and also mark Lisa's 30th birthday.
Since her first marathon in 2002, Arlene has raised a staggering 43,250 and attributes this fantastic success to the very generous people of the town.
Speaking to the Times, Arlene explained: "I began running some nine years after the death of my daughter Lisa, taking part in my first marathon in 2002 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
"Lisa was diagnosed with a brain stem tumour at the age of ten, and died less than two years later aged twelve. During that time she spent long periods in hospital in Belfast undergoing surgery and radiotherapy treatment. I stayed at the hospital with Lisa while her Daddy travelled each day around his work commitments. This placed a considerable burden on finances which sadly not all families can sustain, our family being one.
"Macmillan became a huge source of support helping with travelling costs to and from hospital, and as her condition worsened provided a Macmillan nurse so that Lisa could remain at home, where she died with all the family around her, on 22nd March 1993.
"My choice to run a marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support (there was only ever meant to be one marathon] was to try in some small way to show my appreciation for the help I and my family received and to raise as much money as possible so that the charity which supported us, could continue to support others finding themselves in a similar situation.
"To my amazement I have now completed 10 marathons raising a total of 43,250 thanks to the generosity of the people of Ballymoney.
"I have been a very busy girl since being asked to be the Face of Macmillan Cancer Support for the Belfast City Marathon 2011. I feel very honoured to have been chosen.
Since June of last year I have been doing all sorts of things I attended a press launch at City Hall, where I met Pamela Ballantine, and in December I took part in a fashion show in Belfast. In early January I had the opportunity of joining an outdoor group training session in the grounds of Stormont. This was courtesy of personal trainer Claire Withers in association with Macmillan Cancer Support, I was accompanied by Lucy Evangelista we had a great time!
"As well as all this I have been training and at this stage my mileage is approaching 12 miles on my weekly long run with at least two shorter runs of four and half miles each plus one indoor exercise session each week.
"Fundraising is off to great start and so far has reached over 2,600 thanks to the much appreciated and unfailing generosity of the people of Ballymoney.
"So yet again May 2nd will see me take my place at the start line of the 30th Belfast City Marathon, running in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and in remembrance of Lisa's 30th birthday which would have taken place this year. Lisa is still loved, still remembered and still so very much missed. Running for Macmillan is my way of bringing something positive out of something so sad."
2011 also marks Macmillan Cancer Supports Centenary Year and the charity is calling on the generous people of Northern Ireland to help reach the grand target of 250,000.
Area Fundraising Manager Lisa McGrogan added: "Arlene is a very special and important person to Macmillan in Northern Ireland. She has been a constant driving force for our charity not only in Ballymoney but right throughout the province.
"We felt she was the perfect choice to be the face of Macmillan for this year's marathon as he embodies everything we believe in. She is a passionate supporter, a dedicated fundraiser and an inspiration to everyone who meets her. We are so grateful to have her in Team Macmillan."
* Join Team Macmillan in our Centenary Year and take part in the Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon on Monday 3rd May 2011. Run, walk, relay. Whatever you do will make a huge difference to the lives of people living with cancer in Northern Ireland. Register now at www.belfastcitymarathon.com and receive your fundraising pack.