As #walkyourdogmonth draws to a close we look back to autumn 2016 when Mike and Leeanne, accompanied by Bear and Dobbie set out on a fundraising ‘Reverse Rett Walk’. Mike’s granddaughter Hannah has a rare and grim illness called Rett Syndrome. Severely disabled, she is reduced to the mind and bodily abilities of a one-year-old. Her condition is best described as imagining the symptoms of autism, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and anxiety disorders, all in one little girl. This is Rett Syndrome. Hannah can’t walk, talk, or feed herself, she has night terrors, and someone has to sleep beside her. This, says Mike, is 24/7 care, by comparison looking after the dogs is a doddle. Precious Hannah needs, like all the other one in 10,000 baby girls affected, a cure to be found.
Despite his arthritis and other health challenges, in September 2016 Mike decided to undertake a sponsored walk of ten kilometres to take little Hannah’s picture to Lourdes, with a wish to raise money, and also to raise awareness of this cruel disease. This personal adventure was shared with the Twilight supporters, on the website and on social media, and quickly pledges of sponsorship came flooding in. Accompanying Mike on his expedition were a young Bear and dear little Dobbie in his special wheeled buggy.
The walk was a challenge in many ways for Mike, physically and emotionally, for this was way out of his comfort zone. On Twilight’s social media pages he shared some thoughts about the project:
I am one regular Grandpere, with an ageing body and grim arthritis. But as I am just months from my three score years and ten, I feel blessed in so many ways, but useless in one very big way. My granddaughter Hannah, now nine years of age, has a very sad condition called Rett Syndrome. There is no treatment and therefore no current cure. There is though, HOPE. It is this hope that feeds my drive to do something out of my comfort zone.
I cannot walk well or far. But I pledge to walk ten kilometres on 19 and 20 September 2016, and my goal will be to take our one-eyed dog, Bear, with me to Lourdes and deliver a photograph of dear Hannah, and pray for a miracle. Leeanne will join me, and bring disabled Dobbie along for some healing too, and I will lean on his walking pram to keep me on the straight and narrow!
So, Mike started training and Leeanne even bought him a Fitbit to monitor progress. This proved just how far he walked every day dealing with the needs of the Puddings! Then the day dawned and Mike, Leeanne, Dobbie, Dobbie’s chariot, and Bear set off for Lourdes. The Facebook Fundraisers followed his progress with bated breath as updates and photos were posted. Everyone was rooting for Mike. No one doubted that he would succeed and eventually the supporters were rewarded by a photo of Mike and Dobbie at Lourdes. Donations from friends, fans and Twilight supporters reached a total of £2,112.22 on their JustGiving page.
You can find out more about the charity Reverse Rett here