MS Must Stop campaign raises over £165,000 completing 2023 London Marathon
A senior business leader, who founded a multiple sclerosis fundraising campaign, has become the first FTSE100 Non-Executive Director to complete the marathon in a wheelchair.
Sara Weller CBE, who founded MS Must Stop and is a Non-Executive Director of Virgin Money, did five months of training to prepare for the 26.2 mile race. She said: “It was one of the most special things I have ever done. It was a Herculean team effort and the support I've had from so many people has been overwhelming.”
Sara was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2009 but remains determined to live each day to the full and committed to raise as much money as possible for the Stop MS Appeal. Sara’s training took place around her local housing estate and in her garage, but she also met world leading wheelchair athletes including David Weir and Tanni Grey Thompson, and featured on BBC News and in the national newspapers.
Launched in 2022, donations to MSMustStop go towards the £100m needed to fund the research that will lead to treatments to stop MS progression. Sara completed the race alongside her support runners Will, Kevin, Oliver, Jon and Max, raising more than £165,000 so far. Assisted wheelchair places have only recently been introduced into the race and Sara decided to take on the challenge despite using a wheelchair for less than a year.
MS affects over 130,0000 people in the UK, and while it is incurable, finding treatments to stop progression will mean those diagnosed will have a better chance of maintaining independence and can still live their lives to the full.
Sara Weller became the Representative Director of Virgin Enterprises Limited (VEL) on the Virgin Money board in October 2022. She is also currently a non-executive director of BT Group plc.
Her most recent previous non-executive director roles include over nine years on the board of Lloyds Banking Group plc between 2012 and 2021 where she was chair of the Responsible Business Committee, and more than eight years as board member and Chair of the Remuneration Committee at United Utilities Group PLC between 2012 and 2020.
“This has been a once in a lifetime experience,” Sara explained. “I've been overwhelmed at the generous support and hundreds of messages of encouragement. New treatments for MS could turn around the lives of tens of thousands of people across the UK. If I can break £200,000 I will feel I've helped give hope to those whose daily lives are overshadowed by MS.”
Sara’s fundraiser is still live, and she hopes to meet the goal of £200,000 in the next few weeks. Support Sara at www.msmuststop.org.uk.