RAIN, hail and wind haven't stopped Rye resident Bianca Appleford training for one of the most gruelling challenges of her life.
The determined mother of four does not hesitate to put on her running shoes in any weather and is committed to achieving her goal of completing a half-marathon in the Run Melbourne event.
Her driving force is her eight-year-old son Sam, who has autism, and Mrs Appleford believes any hurdles she faces in the lead-up to her run on July 15 are nothing compared to struggles he faces on a daily basis.
"For Sam, everyday stuff can be challenging, so I thought I have to push myself beyond my limits and comfort zone to get an understanding of what he goes through."
Mrs Appleford said having a child with autism had taught her to appreciate the little things in life and to never take anything for granted.
"When your child gets diagnosed with autism you feel like you are faced with the devil. You've just got to stare it down and work with what you've got. You learn great strength and determination and seeing Sam's little achievements make me very proud."
She is keen to do her son proud while raising some valuable funds for the Abacus Learning Centre in Hastings, where Sam receives much-needed support and education.
Abacus, an early intervention centre for children aged three years to teenagers, is Australia's first facility offering centre-based applied behavioural analysis therapy programs.
Mrs Appleford said this had been a huge support to Sam. "They essentially taught my son to read and taught me the techniques to be able to teach an autistic child how to read, because the way they learn is very different to other children.
"It is also a great support to meet other parents through the centre who have autistic children because it can be quite isolating. Knowing someone else is going through the same things as you can be very reassuring."
She said she had no concerns about completing the gruelling 21-kilometre endurance run. "I think once you have had a kid on the [autism] spectrum, you learn to deal with things as they happen.
''One thing having a son with autism has taught me is you've got to keep moving and keep positive. Sometimes life throws things at you and you just have to deal with it. For me, getting out there on the track is about helping others, raising awareness and getting people thinking."
To support Bianca Appleford in her run and donate much-needed funds to the Abacus Learning Centre, visit everydayhero.com.au.