A woman will attempt to complete an epic 52 mile trek in 24 hours, helping to raise money for the national disability charity, Sense. Kirsty Beal, 23, of Pytchley, was inspired to tackle the RidgeWalk for national disability charity Sense, after seeing first-hand the difference that the charity makes to the people it supports, including to her brother Joe.
The RidgeWalk is an annual trek organised by Sense, along the historic national trail RidgeWay.
Particpants only have 24 hours to complete the 52-mile trek, which is double the length of a marathon.
Kirsty’s brother Joe has cerebral palsy which affects all four of his limbs and his speech, meaning he is in a wheelchair and uses eye pointing for communication.
Joe also has epilepsy and curvature of the spine. Kirsty said: “Joe is my biggest inspiration, as even though he struggles with many things in life, he always has the biggest, cheekiest smile on his face.
“He doesn’t only inspire me, but everyone who crosses his path.” Sense supports Joe by removing barriers to communication, which gives him the opportunity to connect and experience the world. Kirsty said: “Since being at Sense, Joe has learnt how to communicate using Eye-gaze which translates the movement of your eyes into mouse cursor movements.
“Joe also uses a software called Grid 3 which has been edited to suit him.
“Joe can now tell us what he would like to eat or drink, what he has done over the weekend, whether he is in pain and if so where, and he can even watch videos on YouTube.” Since Joe started to receive support from Sense, the family has visibly seen the difference it has made to his life. Kirsty added: “Joe has been so much happier and less frustrated now he can tell us exactly what he wants and needs, which has been a huge thing for Joe and my family. Without Sense, he would not have had this opportunity” Kirsty not only has a close family member that uses Sense’s services, she also works as an education support worker at one of Sense’s six Colleges, which offers personalised learning for young people with complex disabilities, aged between 16 and 25. Kirsty, who will be completing the mammoth challenge alongside seven other Sense colleagues, has been training hard in preparation. She said: “I have never done anything like this before and 52 miles is a challenge for all of us, but at Sense every day we show that, with the right support, we can all achieve amazing things.
“I have been training most weekends either by myself or with other people who are taking part in the walk, including a 26 mile walk around Rutland Water.” Although the training has been demanding, Kirsty is inspired by helping others and is ready to test her endurance. She said: “Ridgewalk is an amazing personal challenge, and it’s great to know that I’ll be raising money at the same time! “Throughout the race if I need extra motivation I will think about all the things our service users could have with the money raised, including my brother.
“Knowing that we are raising life changing funds for Sense will see me over the finish line.”
Sense chief executive Richard Kramer said: “Taking part in the RidgeWalk is an incredible challenge and we are very grateful that Kirsty has chosen to support Sense.
“Through participating, will help to improve the lives of children and adults with complex disabilities. On behalf of everyone connected to Sense, thank you and the very best of luck.” The RidgeWalk begins at the historic Marlborough College, and will see Victoria walk 52 miles through the day and night.
The picturesque route through Oxfordshire and Wiltshire takes participants past landmarks such as Avebury Stone Circle and Barbury Castle, before looping back to Marlborough College for the big finish.
The RidgeWalk will take place this weekend (June 22 and 23.
To donate towards Kirsty’s challenge, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Kirsty-Beal