A former rugby league player is taking on the Wigan 10k for the first time despite being completely blind.
Mike Peters will be running in aid of one his closest friends, Emily Vogan, who suffers from life-threatening illness Pulmonary Hypertension.
The serious condition causes high blood pressure which makes it difficult for part of the heart to pump blood properly, ultimately leading to heart failure.
The 38-year-old, who had a spell in Wigan’s youth team before playing for Warrington and Halifax, described how he and Emily were both tragically struck with their respective conditions around the same time.
“Two years ago I lost my sight suddenly,” the Hindley dad-of-two said.
“At the same time, Emily revealed she had pulmonary hypertension. It was strange to both reveal something so mega and life-changing at the same time.
“She’s the nicest girl, and it was heartbreaking to hear because even though I was going through a tough time too, mine wasn’t life limiting.”
He added: “We’ve been friends since we were three years old. We went all through nursery, primary school and high school together.
“She’s the loveliest girl in the world, but the clock is ticking. If she doesn’t get a double lung and heart transplant, she could be dead within five years.”
Mike therefore wants to run the 10k to raise awareness of the condition and the vital need for more research to be carried out into its treatment.
“At the moment, it’s sad because she has to wait for another young person to die for her to get a transplant,” he commented.
“But with more treatment, Emily’s life expectancy could go up to seven to ten years. If we can fund more treatment, if we can get more treatment centres around the UK, we can extend hers and others’ lives so they have a better chance of a transplant.”
But to do so, Mike has to face the six-mile race despite having no sight. He will be guided through the course by friends who are also taking part, although Mike was a little concerned by their abilities, noting: “I’m probably going to end up face first in the canal!”
But despite all the difficulties, Mike is raring to go.
“I’ve not been allowed to run or do anything too physical since I went blind. It ids dangerous because it can cause ruptures and sharp pains behind my eyes.
“I’m not setting a time for myself, I just want to complete it. Three surgeons have said I can’t do it, but I want to prove them wrong.
“I’m a bit stubborn, I’m not walking it. I don’t care if I have a rupture, so I might as well have a crack at it!”
Mike lost his sight almost literally overnight in 2015, waking up unable to see through one eye.
He initially chalked it up to an eye infection, but he then began to suffer with problems in his right eye too. Months of operations and uncertainty followed, until he was left with little more than a tunnel of vision in his right eye.
Mike is now registered as fully blind, and has adapted to live the rest of his life as a blind man, and it was only last year that he started to reveal his condition to the public, after all surgical attempts to restore his vision were unsuccessful.
“It’s been tough because it takes so much, things you take for granted,” he said.
“I used to moan about the traffic, now I’d love to drive.
“I hadn’t been able to do physical exercise and that had killed me – I’d never got a day without doing something! “It was hard. At first I couldn’t see how I couldn’t be a burden.