Invictus inspiration – running the London Marathon to say thanks

In 2016 The Royal British Legion helped Karla Beecher travel to Orlando to see her brother, Jordan, win gold at the Invictus Games. She’s running the London Marathon to say thank you.

Karla grew up in St. Albans with her brother Jordan. Her main memory of her brother is his passion for the military.

"Jordan always wanted to join the army, ever since I can remember. He was always playing with toy soldiers. Mum would get these big rolls of wallpaper and Jordan would just draw battles all over them when he was really little."

“When he left for that third tour for some reason we all had this thing that he wasn’t going to come home"

"He joined cadets when he was about 12, and then he joined the army at 16. I was still quite young when he joined. I know that my family were worried because they didn’t know what was going to happen, but everyone was really supportive.

"It was funny, the house always seemed so quiet because he wasn’t home anymore."

On tour to Afghanistan

Jordan went on tour to Afghanistan three times in total, the first when he was 18.

"We were worried when Jordan went on his first tour, but we had a lot of contact with him while he was out there.

"He used to call home every week, so we’d speak to him quite a lot. It was the same with the second tour, we spoke to him loads. He was always calling us or sending us letters."

"I assumed the worst had happened, so as soon as I got home I raced upstairs and was like, ‘Is he alive?'"

Jordan’s third tour was a different experience though.

“We always had a feeling that there wasn’t something right with Jordan’s third tour. When he left for the first two tours we were sad but we were ok.

“But when he left for that third tour for some reason we all had this thing that he wasn’t going to come home.”

As Jordan came to the end of his third tour he decided to extend it by one month, so that he would have been out there for seven months before coming home to see his family and girlfriend.

The knock at the door

Before the month was up Karla’s mum had a knock at the door from a man in a suit.

"As soon as he came to the door she knew something wasn’t right. He didn’t have to say anything, she just knew that it was Jordan and he’d probably died.

"I wasn’t there as I’d just landed from work, so I called her on my way home like I always did. I knew instantly something wasn’t right because she was really quiet and just wanted me off the phone. I thought, ‘It’s Jordan – somethings wrong’.

"I assumed the worst had happened, so as soon as I got home I raced upstairs and was like, ‘Is he alive?’ I think it was just instinct."

“Walking up the corridor to see him, it was like you wanted to get there but you didn’t want to get there”

Jordan had been injured in Afghanistan by an IED. He survived but was injured, losing the lower part of his right leg.

"Once we knew he was ok it was a case of letting his girlfriend know, rounding everyone up and getting to the hospital in Birmingham ready to meet Jordan when he was flown home. We saw him that night for the first time in over six months.

"We were all so eager to see him as it had been so long but then it’s difficult as you know that you’re never going to see the old him ever again. He looked so different - when he’d left he’d had his head shaved and when he came home he had a full beard and full head of hair.

"Walking up the corridor to see him, it was like you wanted to get there but you didn’t want to get there. It just seemed like the longest walk ever."

Straight into Sports

Jordan did not waste any time after his injury in getting into sports.

"I remember that the day that we found out about the accident we actually spoke to him on the phone. He was trying to reassure us that he was ok, saying ‘I’m fine, I’m going to get home, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that’.

"The first thing he said was that he was going to do rowing, and we all sort of laughed as he’d never rowed before in his life, so we don’t know where he got the idea from.

"Once Jordan was discharged from hospital he went to Headley Court, and from there he got straight into sports. It really helped him, it gave him something to focus on. He never had any down time, he literally was all go from the time he got out of hospital.

"I think his life had been so regimented he needed something to keep him disciplined and rowing was that. Like get up every day, get on the rowing machine and just go for it."

Missing out on the Olympics

"Jordan was part of Team GB for about a year. It took up so much of his life, we didn’t see him for a year because he was just rowing every day. They’d get up at 5am, get on the river and then it was just rowing, rowing, rowing.

"His aim was Rio, for the Olympics, and they pulled his category at the last minute so he didn’t get to go. I think the Invictus Games were what kept him going, as he knew he wasn’t going to make it to Rio but he knew that he had Orlando to aim towards.

"When we heard that he was competing for a place on Team UK we were all really excited. We’d heard all about it, so we were all like is he going to get in, is he not going to get in.

"It was quite close to when we were going that we found out so we were all really excited."

Invictus – unconquerable soul

"The London Invictus Games were amazing. As they were the first it was exciting, but the Orlando Games were massive. America does everything ten times bigger.

"Even though we were just the family we were so well looked after by everyone. It was a nice atmosphere; everyone was so excited.

"Everyone would go to all the events to support Team UK.

"Because we got passes to all the events we could go and support everyone else’s friends and family, which was really nice. It meant that the people that you’d become really close with, they were all there supporting you.

"There was always such a big crowd of the friends and families supporting Team UK, the atmosphere was great. We won quite a few medals for rowing, so I was just happy for anyone that won in Team UK even if they weren’t Jordan."

"It was amazing that Jordan won his race and took gold, we were cheering so loud. But in the race where he won silver, the guy that took gold was also from Team UK so we were equally as happy for him as well.

"The closing ceremony was the best part of the whole experience. It was such a hot day, all the friends and family walked out together, and the crowd was cheering us which was really nice, because it was like they were saying well done for supporting everyone along the way. I think everyone was really touched by that."

Inspired to run the London Marathon

"I decided to run the London Marathon for two reasons. The first was because the Legion had helped with the whole of the trip to Orlando, so I felt like I had to give them something back. So I thought, ‘I’ve always wanted to run the London Marathon so I thought what better way to do it than to raise money’."

“I just want my brother and my family to be proud”

"The second reason was seeing all of the guys and girls out there with disabilities, whether it’s mentally or physically, and they’re doing this challenge and doing so well in it. So I they can do it then why can’t I do something?

"I’ve always done a bit of running, but not competitively or very well. The furthest I’ve run before I started training was only five or six kilometres, so not very far at all.

"I’m going to see how the marathon goes, but I’ve got another two half marathons booked in and then I’m planning on doing the Paris marathon next year if this one goes to plan.

"My aim for London is just to make my brother proud, because he’s done so much I want to have something that’s sort of on the level of his achievements. I just want him and my family to be proud."

Fundraising for The Legion

Karla is running the London Marathon for The Royal British Legion. You can support her on Just Giving.

Support Karla

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