Hundreds of women lined up for the Belfast Telegraph Runher race last Sunday — and one very special little Bangor girl proved to be a star of the show.
Phoebe Lyle (12) took part in the 5k race despite suffering a horrific accident while on a family holiday in Spain in 2001, which left her paralysed from the neck down.
She was just three years old when she was hurled 40 feet in the air and landed on her head, which was so badly damaged along with her spinal cord that she was not expected to survive.
But after three weeks in a deep coma, Phoebe amazed medical staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast by bravely defying the odds and ever since has continued to surprise and delight all who know her.
Speaking to the Community Telegraph this week, Phoebe’s proud mother Jane said her daughter was “thrilled” to have been involved in the event.
“Phoebe took part in the 5k race; others in her team went on to complete the 10k.
“She was thrilled to be involved, and of course, we were blessed with the dry weather. That really added to the occasion,” she said.
Jane and various members of Phoebe’s family were located at various points throughout the course, with spare batteries for her ventilator — which she relies on to aid her breathing.
And while many others have looked on in amazement at Phoebe’s progress, her mother is not in the least surprised. “Phoebe is a very determined young lady,” she said.
“When she sets her mind on something, she usually works out a way of how to get it.
“She doesn’t see herself as disabled, which shocks some people. Her attitude is ‘this is who I am and if people have a problem with that, it’s their problem’, not hers.”
Jane said Phoebe’s race team of 19 — which included relatives and friends — were raising money for two charities — the Children’s Hospice and The Phoebe Lyle Trust fund, which to date, has raised over £250,000.
The trust offers practical support to parents of children who rely on permanent ventilation.
Phoebe is now looking to the future and is aiming to complete the 10k race in next year’s event — and has even ordered her mother to start running again with her.
Nothing, it seems, is beyond this incredibly brave little girl.