Flitch Green man takes on marathon challenge for guide dogs

Dan with Owen, Steve's guide dog. Photo: Dan O'Rorke

Dan with Owen, Steve's guide dog. Photo: Dan O'Rorke - Credit: Archant

Guide dogs, 26 miles and a bid to raise £2,000 are all in the mix as a man from Flitch Green tests his metal to prepare for the London Marathon.

Dan, Steve and his guide dog Owen. Photo: Dan O'Rorke

Dan, Steve and his guide dog Owen. Photo: Dan O'Rorke - Credit: Archant

Daniel O’Rorke, 41, has not only challenged himself to complete his first ever marathon but to raise £2,000 for Guide Dogs charity.

His challenge has been inspired by his father’s close friend, Steve Steppens, who has been blind since birth.

Steve’s life was significantly changed in 1981 when he got his first guide dog, giving him the confidence to get out into the community and start a new job; now Dan wants to help raise money so others can do the same.

He said: “I think guide dogs give people the confidence to get out.

“Steve lives such a great life and nothing stops him.

“My dad looks after Owen [Steve’s current guide dog] when Steve is off doing other things, like going to France, and he has first refusal when Owen retires!”

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Dan signed up for a marathon place with Guide Dogs, knowing his passion for the cause will help power him through the toughest moments of the famous endurance run.

He added: “It’s quite humbling and I’m compelled to do what I can.”

Despite being set back in training by knee injuries Dan is no less determined to complete the marathon and reach his target. He has even set up his own Virtual Challenge page that encourages others to complete a challenge of their own creation and be awarded a custom made medal in return for a £10 donation towards Dan’s sponsorship.

Despite nerves Dan is looking forward to taking to the course on April 23, “I’ve been training on my own most of the time,” he said, “So I’m looking forward to having some company.”

He is well on his way to reaching his target, with £1,195.82 donated to his Virgin Money Giving page at the time of writing.

Steve, 56, has had five guide dogs over the years; Portia, Fran, Nero, Luke and now Owen.

He said: “I would like to thank Dan for his fantastic fund raising efforts and, recognising that to train a guide dog costs roughly £60,000, any donation will be greatly welcomed and hugely appreciated by yours truly!”

Anyone wanting to take part in Dan’s Virtual Challenge can visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1837155226502214/ or donate directly at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=danororke