At The Yard, we have people signing up to do crazy fundraising challenges for us all the time. These challenges give us the ability to spread the word whilst raising money to keep our services going and it is invaluable. We asked one mum why she chose to run in The Edinburgh Marathon Relay last year and why she has amazingly decided to do it again!

Tell us a bit about yourself...

Hello! My name is Emma Bennion and I am mum to Annie, 6 and Ruby, 4 and in my spare time I am Principal Teacher at Wallyford Primary School in East Lothian. I am married to Graeme and we all stay in Tranent.  

Why did you decide to run for The Yard?

When our wee Ruby was about 2 years old, we were concerned there was something not quite right. She would make noises but no understandable words, when you called her name she wouldn't respond, she was happy but in her own wee world. We have been through hearing tests, MRI scans, EEGs...words like epilepsy, cochlear implants, acquired brain injury, but then the diagnosis came...Autism Spectrum Disorder - Non-Verbal.  

Ruby has no sense of danger and, being non-verbal, she often showed frustration through meltdowns. We needed support and somewhere that we could feel "normal". Our friends told us about The Yard in Edinburgh. I will never forget the first time we visited. Ruby ran around so free, smiling and laughing...she loves the bubbles in the wee stream! And we felt calm in the knowledge she was safe and it didn't matter what meltdowns occurred - there were no uncomfortable looks or comments that we had experienced before at local soft plays and parks.

When setting ourselves the challenge of running the Hairy Haggis Relay, we never had any doubt that The Yard was our chosen charity. It was also a way for us to come to terms with Ruby's diagnosis and to let others know. They were able to read our story on the JustGiving page - the support we received was phenomenal. Old school friends, workmates, acquaintances, as well as family and friends knew, and together we raised over £2000 for The Yard when our target was £500!

How did you find the EMF race on the day?

I had never done anything like this before so I was scared and excited at the same time. I was so proud of what we had achieved in terms of fundraising. We had just had Ruby's formal diagnosis on the Thursday before so myself, Graeme, my brother Alan and my best friend Kirsty knew we were running for Ruby - Ruby's Runners! I was the second leg, and the support the crowd and all the runners gave was amazing! The buzz! I ran near enough 6 miles without stopping!! I hadn't ever done that in training before. Loved that the crowd were handing out sweets and fruit to keep you going.

Why have you decided to run for The Yard again?

Over a festive drink or two, we decided we would love to take part in the Hairy Haggis Relay again. The Yard is a sanctuary for us and all our family know this - we have taken most of them to experience what we do when we visit! How friendly and helpful the staff are as well as how happy Ruby is when she is there, as is Annie (she loves the arts and crafts room). Therefore it was simple when deciding on a charity.