On 23rd September this year, I'm taking part in a 70km ultra marathon in Sapa, home to some of Vietnam's most mountainous highlands. I'll climb 3,000 metres during the race, which I'm anticipating will take me around 13-14 hours.
To spur me on I would be thrilled if you would sponsor this challenge, and donate to my chosen cause, a small volunteer run charity called Fight Against Blindness, who provide counselling to children in the UK, including to my 10 year old friend, Theo, the son of George and Elin, who I've known for nearly 25 years.
Theo was born blind, and George recently introduced me to Fight Against Blindness, an organisation whose unique counselling interventions have left a huge impression on their family in a short space of time.
When I asked George about them he told me this: "For me it’s very simple, with the right support from the right people, children like Theo can really fly - the sky is their limit. But with the wrong support, or insensitive people, then they will barely learn to read and write, let alone operate in the wider world."
It is an appalling fact that if an individual in the UK loses their sight as a child, they have a 90% risk of never working in their life, and a 70% risk of living with anxiety or depression as adults. George believes that much of this is because they haven’t had the emotional support as children. "It’s hard to have a fulfilling and independent life as an adult if you haven’t got a solid base to start with," he explains, "the challenge of social interaction and maintaining positive mental health generally is far bigger than any other, but it’s massively under-served and especially for vulnerable children.”
Fight Against Blindness was set up by the parent of a visually impaired child and provides truly vital support to many children. George was unequivocal: "for children that have so much ranged against them, knowing that you have people rooting for you, and also helping you, is priceless. After Theo's very first session with a Fight Against Blindness specialist, he said, 'I now have someone else on my side'.”
Where you can lend your support to this worthwhile cause, I am confident that Fight Against Blindness' work will continue on, ensuring they remain on the side of more people such as Theo in the future.
Thank you in advance for your donations and for your solidarity. I've already run over 2,000 kms this year - mainly here in Vietnam, but also wherever I get the chance on my travels: Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, the UK, and even in Palestine. To try and prepare for the mountains, I also spend my early mornings walking up flights of stairs in various apartment blocks in Saigon (madness!) however, your support will really make a whole lot of difference on the day to my sense of purpose, and I hope to do Fight Against Blindness proud.