All donations go directly to Alport UK.
Your contribution is hugely appreciated and will go towards encouraging children and young adults living with alport syndrome to get outdoors, go for an adventure or try a new sport and make the most of life!
Check out the GPS tracker map below to follow my progress!
And a HUGE thanks to my sponsors for helping make this happen!
60 SKYDIVES – 14 COUNTRIES – 6000 MILES
“I was in the shower when the idea hit me… because all of our best ideas come to us when we’re naked, don’t they?! Maybe I should try and cycle through Europe and skydive in every city I visit?”
YES, YES and YES.
WHY AM I DOING IT?
I was diagnosed with Alport Syndrome when I was eighteen months old. It’s a rare genetic kidney disease that causes hearing loss, eye abnormalities and kidney failure.
Throughout my twenties, I struggled psychologically with the concept of my kidneys failing, because of the uncertainty of when they would fail. Most of the choices I’ve made in life have been orchestrated by the concept of ‘fighting failure’. In December 2018, on my 31st birthday, I found out that my kidneys are likely to fail by the end of 2019, at the rate at which they are declining. Although I find it slightly daunting, it’s also refreshing to finally have a rough timescale on when my kidneys might fail… and much like the path that’s lead me to where I am today, I can’t just sit still and wait for it to happen. I’m extremely grateful that my hearing, eye sight and kidney function have been closely monitored my whole life, so while I’m still fairly fit and able, I want to use this time to share my story, to raise money and awareness.
Sports are my saviour… and if I can inspire others to take up sport and help support anyone else living with or has yet to be diagnosed with Alport Syndrome while I’m able to, then I will feel as though I’ve done something worthwhile.
WHO AM I DOING IT FOR?
Alport UK is a charity dedicated to raising awareness and empowering people living with Alport Syndrome to enjoy the best possible quality of life. They’ve created a fantastic network for patients and families, which I’m now part of since reaching out for their support. They’re also working really hard to fund vital research, which will improve the lives of those living with Alport Syndrome in the future.
WHAT AM I DOING?
My aim is to raise over £20,000 by cycling (approximately) 6000 miles through Europe, self-funded and self-supported with the added challenge of completing a solo skydive near every major city I visit.
WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?
I’m setting off on the 11th May 2019, around 10am from Henley-on-Thames Town Square.
I aim to have completed the trip by the end of November 2019.
WHERE AM I GOING?
I have absolutely NO IDEA…
I’ve wanted to travel around Europe for ages, since it’s on my doorstep, it would be rude not to! I’ve heard stories from people who travelled with ‘Interrail’, but I always need a challenge and there’s something incredibly intimate about travelling through a country on a bike.
I’ll start my journey in Henley-on-Thames, cycle to Dover and get the ferry across to Calais. From there I’ll pedal to Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Wroclaw, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Zagreb, Venice, Zurich and Paris. I’d love to then travel down to Madrid and complete a few jumps there. It’s where I learnt to skydive and would be the perfect addition to the trip, but we’ll have to see nearer the time. I’ll head back to Paris and continue the ride home to finish in Henley-on-Thames. I’ll be cycling the whole way from city to city, stopping at B&B’s, hostels and ‘Couchsurfing’ along the way. I’ll base myself in each check point to complete five skydives and get my head down to work on weekly videos and content for the blog.
WHAT INSPIRED ME?
For the past three and a half years in my previous job, I produced content for various charity fundraising challenges, in some beautiful countries all over the world. The first trip I ever did was a corporate cycling challenge from Saigon to Angkor Wat, in November 2015. The nature of the route, through narrow paths winding along the Mekong Delta River, meant that I had to cycle while filming the entire challenge. I absolutely loved it. Since then I’ve produced short films and social media content for trekking and cycling challenges in Snowdonia, India, Iceland, China and Cambodia.
I’m not out to break records, I just want to prove that if there’s something you want to do… don’t wait! Find the time and get it done! I’ll be carrying all my gear on the bike with me and I have a rough idea of how many miles I want to cover each day of pedalling, but I’ve got to take my health into consideration all the time. My two biggest worries are hydration and nutrition. It’s going to be hot and I’ll lose salts through sweating, so staying hydrated with electrolytes is really important for me and my kidney function. Regarding nutrition, I’m losing protein through the filters in my kidneys… so during the trip I need to maintain enough protein to help muscle repair after each day of riding… but if I eat too much my kidneys will leak even more protein and deteriorate quicker. Apart from the Vietnam to Cambodia challenge I filmed in 2015, I haven’t cycled long distance… ever! I’m a mountain biker at heart! Short burst energy and launching off dirt jumps is what I’m used to! But I’ve been putting some miles in on the road bike this year! Did I say ‘the road bike?’… what I meant to say was, meet Mr. Creaky Dawes, my trusty steed who sends it off curbs and wheelie’s like a boss!
I learnt to skydive at Skydive Madrid in 2016. To be honest, I’ve been pretty slack… and only jumped 56 times altogether, which is actually quite embarrassing. It’s aother reason why I wanted to embark on this adventure and I’ve set myself a target of five jumps at twelve drop zones. Each skydive will be from 13,000 feet and I’ll open my parachute at about 4,000 feet…. that equals to:
Total time falling towards earth: 1 Hour
Total distance of freefall – 96 miles
Total height reached to leap out the plane – 148 miles
Total number of high fives – 600+
FUNDING AND DONATIONS
I’ve quit my job and moved house twice since deciding to do this challenge, and I’ve been scrimping hard to self-fund the majority of the trip… which is very difficult when I’m eating double the amount during training to try and keep my non-existent weight on! I’ve been told I need to ‘Carb Up’… so every day is a pasta day!
ALL donations will go directly to Alport UK. The money you donate will be used to help young adults and children living with alport syndrome. I’m going to work closely with the charity to set up a fund scheme for patients to apply for. The main aim is to outline the importance of getting outside, and the benefits this can bring to our physical and mental health. The scheme will encourage our participants to take up sport and get outside for an adventure!
Overall, I have quite a bittersweet reason for doing the challenge, but from my heart and soul’s perspective…
After doing my first ski season in 2007, I realised that it’s far too easy to find reasons for NOT doing something…
“What if I get lonely?”
“What will I do afterwards?”
“What if I run out of money?”
“What if I hurt myself and get stranded?”
“What if I don’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would?”
These are all questions I didn’t know the answer to, until I found out for myself.
We live in a world where fear dictates the majority of our decisions. We trap ourselves in a house full of material that snatches money from our pockets for the rest of our lives, because that’s what we’re told we NEED to do?! But that’s not what I WANT to do… Not yet anyway! I feel much happier when I keep it simple and only own practical items that contribute to my genuine happiness. Fast cars and fashion accessories serve a temporary purpose, but adventures and accomplishments stay with you forever!
Again if you’d like to make a donation, please click on the ‘make a donation’ link below and follow the instructions!
Your contribution is hugely appreciated and will go towards encouraging children and young adults living with alport syndrome to get outdoors, go on an adventure or try a new sport and make the most of life!