My husband Paul was diagnosed with primary progressive MS in 2015. It was a real blow to him and to us as a family. After a lot of uncertainty and sadness, and really feeling like there’s a big black hole, I felt I needed to do something positive.
I saw that there was a trek to the Grand Canyon and I got extremely excited because I’ve always wanted to go there. It ticked all the boxes: I will raise money to support a charity that has been wonderful, I’ll get fit and I’ll have an adventure. I always thought one day my husband and I would go to the Grand Canyon together and sadly that’s not possible, but I have his blessing. It’s helped me get back into the right frame of mind.
To be honest, I didn’t realise it would take over my life in such a good way. There are two different sides to it really. One is the training. I’m in my mid-50s and I used to be very sporty, but like so many of us when we have children and busy working lives, our health suffers a bit. That was part of the reason I wanted to do it, to have a reason to get out of the house and go walking.
The other side is the fundraising. I am blessed with a wonderful network of co-workers, clients, family and friends who have supported me. It’s a real mix of people and everyone has been generous. I’m a career coach and so I offered 20 sessions at a discount for a donation to the charity, which has been a great way to meet people and raise funds.
Although from the outside it looks like it is more work and extra pressure, since I’ve started fundraising it’s given me a lot of energy. I get a lot back from it in terms of people’s kind wishes, support and questions. It makes you realise that there are people out there who will step in and help. That optimism helps me to cope with things and I have no regrets.
I have got to know my fellow trekkers in a Facebook group and that’s been wonderful. By the end of the trek I think we’ll be good buddies. That’s one of the great things about doing this: you are not alone. It’s humbling to see how much effort people put in to fundraising.
I know that the MS Trust is already planning on funding new MS nurses, so I know exactly where the money’s going, which is great. I’ve been warned that this is addictive: once you start doing these big fundraising projects apparently you then can’t wait to do the next one! So who knows what I’ll be up to next year!
Join Team MS Trust for the London-Amsterdam cycle
If like Ruth you would like to take on a challenge to help people with MS, we have a fantastic opportunity to join up to 50 other MS Trust supporters cycling from London to Amsterdam next year from 6 to 10 June.
We will be the Official Charity Partner for this event and we’re hoping it will be as successful as our 2016 London to Paris ride, which raised £113,000 to help us provide vital information and support MS services.
With over a year to go, there’s plenty of time for training even if you’re not an experienced cyclist. We will provide lots of training advice as well as fundraising support to help you reach the £1,600 sponsorship target.
Expect long days in the saddle, but the picturesque (mostly flat!) countryside, camaraderie with your fellow MS Trust riders and the sense of achievement when you reach Amsterdam will make this a really memorable adventure.
If you can’t take part yourself, we would be very grateful if you could help us spread the word by telling your friends and family, displaying the enclosed poster or sharing the event on social media.