On November 1st 2012, I started a virtual journey from my home in York, UK, to Rome in Italy and back again.
Crazy I hear you cry? Possibly.
Pointless? Definitely not.
Over the next 12 months I will be cycling, swimming, running, rowing, hiking, basically anything I can do to make up the 4210km that make this journey, and keeping an accurate log of how far I've done. A lot of the work will be done in my local gym, which basically equates to about 16km of gym work, 5 times a week, for 52 weeks. I'm sure this might not be such a daunting task to anyone who is fit and looks after themselves, but i'm not, and I don't. It's going to be an absolute lifestyle change for me and a massive challenge.
Other than the obvious benefits for me, I'm raising money for a girl who currently is in need of potentially lifechanging therapy. He rname is Mia, she is 7 years old, and suffers from Verbal Dyspraxia, Auditory Processing Disorder and Speech and Language Impairment. basically put, she has very limited communication output as the language areas of her brain have not developed properly. She struggles to communicate with her parents and other children, except through very basic sign language. She obviously has frustration tantrums, as she cannot express to others what she is feeling or thinking.
However there is therapy that she can have that will help her realise her potential for speech and communication - but it is very expensive, and is not available through the NHS or through schools. Mia's parents face the realisation that time is running out for her to have this treatment, as once she reaches a certain age her ability to learn these skills will plateau.
She has no real ‘friends’. It is such a huge barrier. She can run and chase with other children, but with such limited means of communication friendship as most of us see it is difficult. Her parents take care to give her as happy an existence as possible, but their life is like one, long, complicated game of charades. She has made enough progress for them to know, beyond doubt, that with the right therapy Mia can become an effective verbal communicator. The brain is amazing and can utilise different pathways to give Mia speech and enable her to use and understand language. With help, we can give Mia a voice. If you would like to hear more of her story please go to http://www.avoiceformia.org.uk/
Anyone wanting to sponsor me, please go to my JustGiving page at http://www.justgiving.com/romeandback any donations are gratefully received, and will go directly to Mia's therapy, coutesy of the amazing Tree of Hope charity.