Readers of my blog may recall that last year I was inspired by Mark Pattenden, a lower leg amputee, to #MoveMoreInMarch. At the time Mark was RUNNING 10k a DAY, every day, to help fund a running blade for fellow amputee Hannah Moore, in an incredible ‘pay it forward’ initiative. I was reading Mark’s Facebook posts about his progress, from the comfort of my sofa whilst feeling ashamed of the fact that I was able-bodied and yet made no effort at all to exercise. I set myself a goal to walk 100 miles in March (which was a lot for someone who had a very sedentary lifestyle; I typically walked, on average, 1.6 miles a day) and I pledged to donate £31 (£1 a day) to Mark’s initiative at the end of March if I achieved my goal… or £62 if I failed!
I then shared with you in April that I had achieved my goal and what I had discovered along the way.
In September 17 my blog was about ‘Walking Mindfully’and the importance of doing something which makes your heart sing…
And then winter came, bringing bitterly cold winds, rain, mud, snow, ice… did it stop us walking? Surprisingly it didn’t. After spending the previous six months mindfully walking together, I was delighted when Pauline – my walking buddy (and one of my besties) – said she had no intention of giving up our weekend walks for winter! We both bought waterproof clothing – Pauline treated us both to balaclavas and some fabulous sheep hats and we continued walking.
We have walked in sunshine, drizzle, fog, high winds, heavy rain, snow, on icy ground and in waterlogged fields. We have seen a plethora of wildlife, including hares, stags, deer and wild boar.
We have photographed the most incredible tree characters.
We have witnessed the changing seasons and noted the beauty of each as it starts and finishes. We have filled our lungs with fresh forest air and engaged in forest bathing. I can honestly say that I have had the most edifying year and have seen sights which I will remember forever. We invariably get lost and every time we walk, we laugh until out sides hurt! I feel fitter and healthier than I have felt for many, many years.
For the record, from the 1st March 2017 until the 28th February 2018 I walked 1091.09 miles. On one of our most recent outings we walked 10.5 miles and climbed the equivalent of 100 flights of stairs. We followed that two days later with a 9.5 mile walk (we both booked a day off work for that one) and the day after that I went to London to see my son and walked another 9.5 miles. Not bad for someone who a year ago only managed an average of 1.6 miles a day! If I can do it, you can do it!
I will be forever grateful to Mark for his inspirational posts on Facebook and in awe of all he has achieved.
Mark’s ‘Pay it Forward’ initiative is still going strong. Kelly Jackson was the recipient of the first running blade and she and Mark worked hard to fund a running blade for Hannah Moore. This tremendous trio are now fundraising to enable a fourth amputee to receive a running blade. How amazing is that?
Mark’s 18 years of being a volunteer fundraiser have finally been recognised – I nominated him for (and he received) a ‘Points of Light Award‘ (he was the 754th recipient) and he was a London finalist in the Pride of Britain Awards. Last year Mark took-up archery. As I type, he is representing GB in the 4th Fazza International Para-Archery Competition in Dubai. He is competing with, and against, other para-athletes with years of experience and holding his own. He has earned a place on the Paralympic Conversion Academy with Archery GB and his aim is to represent GB at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Mark is trying to raise funds to assist with his training – for example, he mentions on his blog that in six months he has driven 12,600 miles to and from training, so his fuel bill alone must be massive, without the cost of coaching sessions, competitions, travel, accommodation, etc plus the fact that he needs to be self-funded for 12 months. If I was rich, I would not hesitate to fund all of Mark’s training as a ‘thank you’ for inspiring me to #MoveMoreInMarch which truly changed my life. When I win the lottery, I promise that I will do that. In the meantime I will make another donation and simply say “Thank you Mark, for inspiring those with and without disabilities, day in and day out. May your arrows fly straight and true in Dubai and I’ll be cheering the #CarbonArcher on to win a gold in Tokyo, in 2020!”
I would like to end this blog post by mentioning that it is my birthday this month.
If you’re thinking of sending me a card, or buying me a birthday pressie or coffee/lunch… please would you consider donating the cost of it to Mark’s crowdfunding appeal instead? Please write Sali’s Birthday Treat in the message, when you donate, so that I can see it and say ‘thank you’.