“I’m doing the Sydney Running Festival to be a role model for my kids”

Mum of special needs child explains why the run is so important to her family

Content Editor / September 12 2018

This year, Blackmores is partnering with Special Olympics Australia for the Sydney Running Festival with the aim of celebrating diversity and inclusion, and to help break down stigma. They’re encouraging everyone to get on board and get active, no matter what their age, stage or ability.

Mum of three, Julia Norton, is running the 10km course this year alongside her daughter Olivia, aged nine. Julia’s husband will be doing the 3.5km Family Run with their youngest daughter, Madi, six, while pushing their son, Jack, 11, who has special needs, in a stroller.

“I’ve done the Festival for the last five years but this will be the first time running with my daughter,” Julia says.

“As the mum of a special needs child, this year’s race focus is particularly important to me. I face daily challenges with my son and I can honestly say that my morning runs helps me cope and be the resilient person I need to be.”

Jack has a very rare chromosome anomaly which means he has severe global developmental delays as well as an autism diagnosis. “He’s 11, but he still doesn’t have many recognisable words nor is he toilet trained,” Julia explains. “He needs 1:1 supervision at all meals, with dressing, washing, and almost all daily activities.”

Julia has been training regularly with Olivia. “She very sporty and loves running,” she explains. “She is in a run club and went to zone for the 100m again this year. During her last race she said when she felt like giving up she said to herself ‘Do it for Jackie’ and was able to push on. That made me cry and gave me the idea to do more.

"This year, I organised for my son’s school Foundation to be a donor recipient through Grassrootz so we have about eight families running for Cromehurst Foundation," Julia adds.

“A lot of parents dream for their kids to grow up and be a successful doctor, or an architect or an actress. We most certainly dream of them marrying one day, buying a house and having a family. However, with a child who has a profound disability, those dreams look very different.

“I would be elated if Jack could some day handle money, take tickets at a dry cleaner, or load a dishwasher! Right now, even the simplest of skills for Jack seem like, just that, only a dream.”

Also running in this year’s festival is former Bachelor star Matty J, who has been working with Special Olympics Medallist and Blackmores’ newest trainer, Chris Bunton.

“I am honoured to be partnering with Blackmores for this campaign to help get the nation moving,” he says. “There are so many people out there who have the ability to exercise and achieve whatever they put their mind to, but don’t. And then you meet someone like Chris, who, against all odds, has become an athlete.”

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