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Jo, from Blythe Bridge, beats the odds to Race For Life

By Cheadle Post and Times  |  Posted: July 03, 2014

Jo and her team.

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Cystic fibrosis sufferer Jo Hughes was told she would not live past the age of 16.

But she took part in the Race for Life on Tuesday, June 10, to mark her 30th birthday on June 25.

Jo, from Portland Drive, Blythe Bridge, who was diagnosed with the disease as a newborn baby, wanted to commemorate the milestone with a fundraiser.

The 29-year-old was joined by 12 of her friends for the Cancer Research UK event at the Trentham Estate.

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Jo said: "When I was born my parents were told I wouldn't live past my 16th birthday so every birthday since then has been a big deal. My 18th and my 21st were very special and I never in my life thought I would be planning my 30th. So to make this one special I wanted to do something I'd never done before.

"I put out an appeal on Facebook to see if any of my friends would be willing to take part with me and walk at my pace and about 12 people said they would do it."

Jo says she was inspired to take part in the 5K race following the death of her close friend, and fellow cystic fibrosis sufferer, Stephanie Sutton, from Clayton, who died in April, aged 24.

Jo added: "Steph managed to complete a half marathon before she died and that was a real achievement. I know that is something I will never be able to do but a 5K is a huge deal for me.

"I struggle to walk and I have to take things at my pace. Some days I can't walk very far at all so I never thought I would be able to walk in a race.

"My friends and I trained ourselves and got ourselves fitter before the day. It was a big challenge for me, but I never dreamt I would do something like this."

Some of the girls who supported Jo include Gemma Hill, Amelie Young, Lizzy Sinclair, Nicki Handford and Becky Hicks.

Gemma, aged 30, from Green Lane, Blythe Bridge, said: "Lots of us ran the race individually before for personal reasons but this year the main reason was to support Jo. She is turning 30 soon, and for most people it's a scary milestone, but it is incredibly momentous for her because not everybody that suffers from cystic fibrosis makes it that far.

"Jo has always looked after her health and even when she is really poorly she just gets on with it. Over the last couple of months she has been keeping active to be ready for Race for Life. Most people can walk 5k fairly easily but for Jo it was a massive achievement."

The girls have so far raised £800 for Cancer Research UK.

Nicki, aged 29, from Starwood Road, Lightwood, added: "Jo organised the group as part of an early 30th celebration so we all walked with her at her pace.

"We have been friends since the age of 11 and I have seen her at her worst so I know what a massive deal the race for life was for her. She gets quite out of breath doing any physical activity."

More than 4,000 women took part in the event.

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