Friday, 30 August 2013

My Mile for Muscles

On the 25th August I started my challenge, a mile for muscles.

This was my chance to push and challenge myself and an opportunity to raise awareness and vital funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and try to help fund world class research to find treatment and cures for muscular dystrophy.

I chose the location for my walk quite easily and family and friends may not even realise why I had been quite specific. I was to start my walk from Stoke Mandeville Stadium; The Guttmann centre.

Ludwig Guttmann was a German born British neurologist who believed that sport was a major method of therapy for injured military personnel helping them build up physical strength and self-respect… This is something I truly believe in and also in this day and age spectating sports too. To be included and feel that you’re part of something can be imperative, able bodied or not.

So we have our start point, the birth place of the Paralympic movement which all come about because of an inspiration of mine and one of my unsung heroes; Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann.

Where could we end this mile of mine? Obviously it had to be a mile away and also a good vocal point where everybody could meet to celebrate and where everybody knows your name… The Pub!!! (The aristocrat public house to be precise)

So it’s set up! Sponsorship is coming in nicely and I’ve tried all I can to raise awareness with the help of family and friends. Before the event I went on local radio, getting published in our local newspaper and using social media with great fever.

So how do you train to walk a mile when you cannot walk without assistance? Well for me it was more psychological training. I was gathering information from my younger brother; Andrew (who is not affected by Muscular Dystrophy) who is a marathon man, an accomplished long distance runner. All I could really take was the dietary information and the fact that I shouldn’t walk too far in the week coming up to the event and to have a large pasta meal the day before, Easy, I love Pasta!

Recently I went to see my friend, Freya Levy, play basketball… We originally met at an event at Parliament which was organised by MDC Trailblazers and we became friends immediately. Freya’s attitude towards sport and her attitude towards Muscular Dystrophy is the same as mine… It will not stop me and I’ll enjoy all the things I love. Freya is a very inspirational person and has aspirations to play at Rio 2016.

I received an overwhelming amount of support on twitter, my account consists mostly of football fans/friends and for this I was extremely grateful.  I had received many messages and donations ending with the hash tag; #MOT (“Marching on Together”), this would be something that I would carry with me too. To know so many people were thinking of me at this time would help me no end…

The night before my walk I had feelings of apprehension, self-doubt and my feelings of confidence and faith in me had gone. I put this down to nerves and my wife, Michelle, reassured me that everything would be fine and we could do this. She was right!

13:00 25th August, with family and friends around me we set off from The Guttmann centre and started this very short but meaningful journey. I was determined to show others that even with restrictions and the perceived lack of ability that I could do this for myself and of course others with different types of Muscular Dystrophy.

Pain was immediate but I had to be selfless and carry on regardless, every single step I seemed to get an ache or pain somewhere in my hips, pelvis, lower back, legs or feet. So glad I had my human walking stick beside me! By half way I had to stop, I had a pain in the top of my left leg it felt like a knitting needle was being pushed into it, Horrid.

We pushed on and I used the thoughts I previously mentioned, Andrew pushing on in a marathon, Freya recently scoring in a basketball match I’d seen and my three daughters. I was drawing on all I could to help me to keep going. Also including all my football friends that would be ‘Marching on Together’ with me. Push, Push, Push!

We had one last hurdle just before the end, I had a sharp pain in my right Calf muscle, it was agonising but my friend, Dean, had noticed and immediately got under my right arm and helped me up to keep going. We were now a team, myself trying to walk, Michelle on my left arm and Dean on my right. We rounded the last corner and I saw a sea of orange in front of me, a very orange pub was cheering me on.

I had done it; to be honest I simply could not believe it. I had physically pushed myself to the absolute limit when 99% of me wanted to stop and that 1% had pushed me on to get the job done.

My reward? I was surrounded by family and friends, the landlady (Val) handed me an ice cold beer and I had a massive sense of achievement. I was exhausted and it felt fantastic!

Thank you to all my family and friends that walked with me, all those that was there to help me get over that finish line and those precious sponsors. With special thanks to my wife Michelle and my friend Dean who literally carried me over the finish line. Lastly our Skye Rosy who had walked in front of me the whole way… Aged 2 yrs.

Would I do it again? Without a doubt, YES! Move a Mile For Muscles… GET INVOLVED!

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