Dublin mum to run 20th mini marathon for Debra charity

by Rachel Cunningham
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A Dublin mum is set to run her 20th VHI Women’s Mini Marathon for the national charity which helps her daughter battle an horrific skin disease. 

Liz Collins, 56, has completed the 10km run every June bank holiday since the birth of her daughter Claudia Scanlon, who lives with a severe form of epidermolysis bullosa (EB). 

Also known as Butterfly Skin, the genetic skin disease leaves 80% of her body covered in open wounds. 

“When I had Claudia, I didn’t know if I’d have 20 months with her never mind 20 years, but she’s still here,” said Liz, who lives in Terenure. 

“There’s a finely tuned team working for Debra (the charity helping 300 people living in Ireland with EB) now, but when Claudia was born, it was a really small charity.” 

In 2004, Liz decided to run the mini marathon to raise awareness for Debra and hasn’t missed a year since, even completing solo runs during Covid restrictions.  

Liz Collins with her daughter Claudia

Donations to her 20th mini marathon for the charity can be made at: https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/ElizabethCollins93112. 

“I grew up in the inner city, so running through Dublin feels very special, and I find the buzz of women running for important causes, from cancer to rare diseases, very empowering,” she said. 

“I’ve arthritic knees but I don’t want to give up – I feel Claudia pushing me to keep going because that’s what she has to do.” 

A member of the G-Force Community Gym running club, Street Force, in Drimnagh, Liz will collect her 20th medal on June 2. 

She said that running has helped her mental health over the last two decades, a side of EB that can affect the whole family but is often overlooked. 

“Being a part of a running community has been the greatest therapy that anyone could give to me.  

“As a carer, you get a lot of praise but I’m not a machine, I’m just trying to keep my head above water every single day. 

“I’m a mother, a wife, I’m holding a job down and then I’m involved in dressing changes, ordering bandages and medications, hospital visits – it’s overwhelming. 

“But if Claudia didn’t have EB, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the goodness of people through Debra and I definitely wouldn’t be doing my 20th mini marathon.  

“In a roundabout way, these are the gifts that she’s brought.” 

Last year, Claudia completed a make-up artistry course in Blackrock and is hoping to find work in the area.  

“Unfortunately, it’s been difficult for Claudia to find work but we’re hoping in the future there will be some work coming to her,” said Liz. 

“We take for granted there’s a natural progression in life but she’s had so many roadblocks that those rites of passage haven’t come so easily to her.  

“She’s a very talented artist, so we’re full of hope for her next chapter and see every chapter as a blessing.” 

Support Liz’s run for Debra at: https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/ElizabethCollins93112. 

To learn more about Debra, visit debra.ie

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