#MoveMoreInMarch 2017 – a pledge fulfilled, a life transformed.

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. 

For blog

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. 

Wild Boar

We have photographed the most incredible tree characters.

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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.

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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’. 

 

 

 

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#MoveMoreInMarch Is this pledge changing my mentality? Already?

Since starting my pledge to #MoveMoreInMarch, I had managed to walk 35.11 miles by the end of Thursday 9th March – an average of 3.9 miles a day – so I was well on track to achieving my pledged 100 miles (an average of 3.23 miles a day).

However, I woke up on Friday feeling overwhelmingly tired. It happens sometimes.  I saw clients in the morning, but by lunchtime my energy hadn’t returned.  I worked through the afternoon, hoping that the exhaustion would pass – it didn’t.  By the time I went to bed, I had managed a paltry 1.12miles or 2,639 steps.  I felt very frustrated, but interestingly – looking at my ‘Step history’ – I walked less than this distance on 10 separate days in February and didn’t feel frustrated about it then. Is this pledge changing my mentality? Already? When I went to bed last night I decided not to set my alarm and to sleep as long as my body needed, which was just over eight and a half hours and I woke far less tired than the previous day.

I texted my friend Pauline (a local amateur photographer) who had planned to go to Gloucester Docks today, to take some photos.  I decided I would walk to meet her and we arranged to walk to the Docks together.  As I left the house, I checked my Fitbit… only to notice the flat-battery symbol! How frustrating.  I grabbed the charger from the car, thinking I could charge it at Pauline’s prior to walking to the Docks.  I was about half-way into my journey when I realised I had picked up the phone charger instead of the Fitbit charger!

Thankfully, my Fitbit didn’t die before I arrived at Pauline’s.  She photographed the ‘miles’ and the ‘steps’ displayed, and from that point we were dependent on her tracker.  After a quick visit to the pharmacy for some blister plasters (I had made the mistake of wearing new trainers and very thin socks) we popped into the closest sports shop for some ‘padded’ socks, which I duly put on, before we continued to the Docks. 

Sox

We detoured to Gloucester Quays Shopping Outlet, where we both bought proper ‘walking shoes’ (I confess that my heels were so sore that I wore my new walking shoes out of the shop!) before moving on to the Docks to take photos. 

Shoes

Arriving back at Pauline’s we noted how far we had walked.  To my surprise, despite the flat battery, my Fitbit was able to display my miles and I already knew how many miles my walk home would be, from walking to Pauline’s from my house in the morning.  To my delight, when I arrived home, my Fitbit managed to display the total miles I had walked today and sync with my iPad!  To say I’m impressed with the performance of my Fitbit is an understatement.

Fitbit

It’s surprising how much you notice when you walk.  I spotted my first honey bee and my first bumble bee, both feasting on fragrant mahonia. In fact, walking through Barnwood Arboretum on the way home, my senses were seduced by the scent of the blossom.  It really is a beautiful time of year and it makes me think just how much I would be missing, if I hadn’t pledged to #MoveMoreInMarch. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, why not try it?

Bee

 

Speaking for those who have no voice!

DREAMS – we all have them…

There are even charities which exist to grant dreams to children and young adults, but I discovered something yesterday which rocked my faith in charities and brought me down to earth with a big bump! It also propelled me to write this post.

First I want you to consider something.  If you have ever had children, think back to the time before they were verbal. Do you remember how you learnt to understand what they needed/wanted? How you, as a parent, were as one with your non-verbal child. Did you ever have people saying your child was hungry, when in fact you knew he/she was simply over-stimulated and needed a nap? No-one understands the needs of a child better than a parent.

Perhaps you have a dog? Dogs are non-verbal, but as a dog owner you learn to communicate with them in a non-verbal way, understanding their needs/wants.

Some children who are born healthy can develop illnesses/diseases which have a profound effect on them.  They may have a normal, happy childhood and then ‘BOOM’ everything changes.  Suddenly they are no longer able to do the things they once did.  Some are robbed of any chance of a ‘normal’ life and exist in a world where they can no longer use their voice to communicate.  Sadly, some children are born with a disease which means they will never be able to talk.

Yesterday I read a Facebook post written by the father of a non-verbal 17 year old, who has a life-limiting disorder and who is on a palliative care pathway.  This father knows that his son loves Disney characters and that a visit to Disneyland would be a dream come true for his son.  His son has not voiced this dream, of course… he has no voice to do so!  The family decided that they would take their son to Disneyland and that they would fund the trip themselves, with the help of a Crowdfunding platform.  Donations are coming in, insurance , accommodation, car hire and flights are sorted.  The family just needs a bit of help with tickets – time is running out.  So the father approached a well-known ‘Wish’ charity to ask for support with the tickets, only to be told that his son needs to express the wish himself! WHAT??? They said what?  They had been told that he can’t communicate and his inability to do so means he can’t be granted a wish! How uncharitable is that?  Another charity which grants wishes ONLY does so to children suffering from life-threatening cancers! WHAT??? I have spent years supporting charities; donating, fundraising, raising awareness, as well as working for some on a consultancy basis and whilst I understand that there has to be set criteria, insisting that a child verbalises their dream is nothing short – in my opinion – of discriminatory.  For a charity only to grant ‘dreams’ to children with cancer is beyond sad.  Mitochondrial disease kills more children than childhood cancer.  It comes in many forms – all life-limiting, some terminal.  No Voices

I spent a few hours yesterday looking at the ‘criteria’ in the small print of several ‘wish giving’ charities, whilst wondering what donors would think of these restrictive policies.  What do YOU think?  If you’re as upset as I am, please share this post and help raise awareness of this poor practice. 

If you would like to support this family, here is Kieran’s GoFundMe page 

Kieran’s father, Paul Preston, created The Children’s Mitochondrial Disease Network (CMDM) in 1998 to support other families, raise awareness and campaign for improved treatment and management of mitochondrial disorders, after the death of his own daughter, Kirsten, in 1992.  She was just 8 weeks old.  Last year, Kirsten and Kieran’s sister, Stacey, died from mitochondrial disease.  She was just 20. She was Paul’s inspiration for twenty years!  This article will tell you more.

I truly believe that Paul Preston and his wife understand their son and know that a visit to Disney would be very special to him. Would it be his verbalised dream, if he could speak? If only he could tell us… because it’s the only way he’ll get support from some of the ‘dream’ charities.

If you would like to know whether Kieran gets to go to Disneyland, please follow Kieran’s Mitochondrial Journey and Wishes Facebook page.

Kieran