x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Father and son run to battle son's rare disease

Graham Rafferty is using today's Dubai Marathon as an opportunity to help others in the same position.

DUBAI // Having spent the past 22 years watching his son face a daily battle against a rare and debilitating condition, Graham Rafferty is using today's Dubai Marathon as an opportunity to help others in the same position. Mr Rafferty, the co-ordinator of the Dubai Road Runners club, is using the race to raise awareness and money for the Arthrogryposis Group, a British-based support group which has provided invaluable support to his family. His son, Christopher, who is studying for a master's degree in international relations at the University of Wales, Swansea, has flown to Dubai to run his first marathon alongside him.

The astonishing thing is that Christopher Rafferty can run at all. He was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder that causes muscle weakness and joint stiffness. His father, a veteran distance runner, will try to show him the way today. "We ran a half-marathon together last year and decided to try Dubai. We thought as we are running, we should do so for a cause," Mr Rafferty said. Christopher's condition restricts movement in his upper limbs, particularly his elbows, wrists and shoulder joints.

Mr Rafferty said his son was one of the lucky ones. Most diagnosed with the condition, which is not degenerative, suffer it in all limbs and require a wheelchair. It is believed to be caused by cramping in the womb during pregnancy and is not hereditary. @Email:loatway@thenational.ae