Darren's bid to get'¨to Special Olympics

A talented young Bearsden athlete, who has been selected to run in next year's world-class Special Olympics, is appealing for help to raise the funds needed to get him there.

Bearsden Academy pupil Darren Carruthers (18), who has learning difficulties, will compete in the 1,500m and 3,000m athletic events (T20 category) at Abu Dhabi, UAE, in March 2019.

But his family need to raise at least £2,500 to enable him to compete.

Mum Donna told the Herald that without financial help, Darren may miss his big chance to compete.

So far, a crowfunding appeal has collected more than £1,000 – but this is still far short of the total needed.

Donna said: “There is no funding available for athletes going to the Special Olympics. All the other branches of the Olympics receive funding.

“We are so, so grateful to the people who have supported us this far.

“The total cost will be at least £2,500 for Darren to travel and race. On top of this, I will be flying out with my mum and my sister. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

She praised his PE teacher at Merkland School, who helped Darren develop his talent for running when he was 11 years-old.

The teenager was born with a rare form of diabetes, which doctors were unable to control and this led to his learning difficulties.

Donna said: “Darren had been in mainstream school before this and wasn’t doing too well. He had no self-esteem.

“He attended Merkland for three or four years and his teacher got him interested in running.

“Darren took to it like a duck to water and just became a completely different person.”

Darren trains with Victoria Park and Red Star athletic clubs which cater for people with special needs.

Darren competed at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in 2014 and 2017, taking two bronze medals at the former at Bath down south and a gold in the 3000m, silver in the 4x400m relay, silver in the javelin and bronze in the 1500m at the latter in Sheffield.

Darren’s proud aunt, Michelle Pearson, added: “Darren has trained so hard over the years. Running has given him a sense of purpose.

“He is an inspiration and we can’t wait to see hi in action at the World Games!”

You can donate to Darren’s bid to get to the Games at ht