Entries for the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Run are open. Enter at: Greatrun.org/Edinburgh

A man who took up running as a way of comfort when his young son was diagnosed with autism is to take on a huge fundraising challenge to raise money for the centres that have supported him.

John Roach, from Glasgow, felt like he lost control of how to help his son Calum, when the family were told he had the condition.

Struggling to be able to cope with his son’s diagnosis, he embarked on his first ever run, which helped him to focus and a way to escape.

John’s attitude began to change when Calum began to attend the Scottish Centre for Autism once a week at Glasgow Sick Kids Hospital.

The centre helps Calum with communication skills and also provided counseling to his parents.

It was then that John decided to take on a huge four-event running challenge in support of the centre and a local scouts group that Calum attends, to raise funds and awareness about the condition.

After attending free Great Run Local sessions in Glasgow Quays as a beginner, John progressed onto long distance running events sporting a multi-coloured beard.

Father and son now both volunteer at the event, with Calum taking on the shorter running route too.

John’s next challenge will be the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Run that takes place on Sunday 23 April.

John is using the event as a training run for the Stirling Scottish Marathon on Sunday 21 May, which he has also entered as part of his fundraising quest.

John said: “Before Calum was diagnosed with autism I was not a runner. I have turned my life around and become one now.

“After what seemed like hundreds of appointments, we finally received news that our lad had autism and we did not realise how many things were going to have to change in our lifestyle.

“I felt really lost and not in control, wondering what the coming months and years would bring and how Calum would be affected.

“I would get angry and frustrated and the only way to forget all of that was when I decided to go out for my first run one day.

“Although the first time I went no longer than a mile with disastrous results, I joined a Great Run Local and had such an amazing time, socializing with people and improving my ability at the same time.

“The community feeling it gave me, combined with the amazing help we were receiving from the Scottish Centre for Autism, inspired me to want to repay them in any way I could.

“What better way than to raise awareness of autism and a few pounds as well than to sign up to a running event where I could put my skills to good use.”

John became focused on raising awareness about autism in his community and began to run 5km events dressed as Wallace the Bear, Scottish Autism's mascot.

He then decided to also support Glasgow Disabled Scouts, the scouts group that Calum attends and is the only group of its kind for disabled people in Scotland.

John added: “Great Run Local has helped me and Calum a lot and so we made a deal that we would volunteer one in every four times that we attended. Calum also loves the social side of it and how much everyone has welcomes us.

"The aim of the Glasgow Disabled Scouts is to develop children to fulfill their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potentials.

“It’s self funded and given the fact Calum attends Company 77, this seemed like the right thing to do.

“In terms of our fundraising, not one penny raised has benefited Calum, it’s always been for the kids that attended the following year.

“When I put on my running vest on a freezing winter morning in January, the reasons for me running for Calum are never far from my thoughts.”

Support John’s running challenge fundraiser here.

Entries for the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Run are open. Enter at: Greatrun.org/Edinburgh

General entries for the Stirling Scottish Marathon are now closed but charity entries are still avaialable at: Greatrun.org/Stirling