Son's 'miracle' inspires Patrick Gilligan to run Bath Half Marathon for Meningitis UK
A DEVOTED dad whose son almost died of meningitis has run a half marathon to raise money for charity.
Patrick Gilligan, 40, ran the Bath Half Marathon for charity Meningitis UK as a tribute to the son, whose recovery he calls a miracle.
Mr Gilligan's son Steven was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis at just 13 weeks old.
Doctors told him and partner Katie Holstock to prepare for the worst but Steven, now eight, pulled through with no lasting side-effects.
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Mr Gilligan said: "No matter how much training you do, nothing can really prepare you for your first half marathon.
"I was just buzzing off the people around me, especially with the cause being so close to my heart.
"The thought that I was doing it to help stop meningitis drove me on."
Mrs Holstock's parents were babysitting Steven on New Year's Day, 2005.
When she went to wake up her son up the next day, Mrs Holstock found her mum on the telephone to the hospital describing Steven as "grey and floppy".
He was rushed to Hull Royal Infirmary for a course of antibiotics. A test of spinal fluid revealed he was suffering from meningitis.
Doctors told the couple the next 24 hours would be critical.
It took 12 days before he was allowed to go back home and months to make a full recovery.
Now, Steven plays football with the Sproatley Juniors and is a pupil at Wansbeck Primary School.
Mr Gilligan raised £700 for charity and completed the marathon in two hours and 57 minutes.
He is soon to start training for the Great North Run.
He said: "When I crossed the finish line, I was in shock at first.
"When I got home from the marathon, Steven was waiting up for me. I put the medal over his head and said, 'That's for you, Steven'.
"I'm one of the lucky ones because I've still got my son but there are other parents out there who haven't been so lucky."
To find out more about Meningitis UK, visit www.meningitis uk.org or call 01179 476320.