Communications: 'I was a TV case study - and survived'

To be told you have "the fitness levels of someone in a coma" would be a blow to anyone's ego. To be told this on national television would be pure humiliation.

That's what Linda Ball had to endure in her quest to raise the profile of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, of which she is a trustee. She was selected along with 12 others to take part in BBC 1 documentary Run for Glory, which followed their exploits as they prepared for this year's Flora London Marathon.

The series was made by Endemol, which is also responsible for Big Brother.

Contestants had to convince the producers that running the London Marathon would not only improve their fitness, but also change their lives for the better.

The company initially sent out a mass email to hundreds of charities to launch their search.

Ball responded after being asked by the MDC because she wanted to raise awareness of the condition affecting her son, Daniel. He has an aggressive form of muscular dystrophy known as Duchenne, which means he has a life expectancy of between 20 and 26 years.

Although many charities are sceptical about finding case studies for the media, Ball said she had no such qualms. "I'm good at talking to the media about my experiences," she said.

"I've never been afraid of talking to journalists. Some of the comments that were made to me during training will go with me to my grave, but it was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of my son's condition."

MDC has enjoyed a surge in interest as a result of the series, which had four million viewers for the last programme. There have been 1,000 new visitors to the charity's website and Ball estimates she is on target to raise £5,000 from viewers.

The programme also generated coverage on BBC 1's Breakfast and on regional TV and radio.

Ian Holt, producer of Run for Glory, said: "What stood out about Linda is that she was very open and was willing to talk about intimate details of her life."

Although Ball had a positive experience with the media, a spokeswoman for MDC warned other charities to think carefully before following suit.

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