It was about this time last year I casually asked my 8yo daughter if she might want to take part in our Challenge4Charity event. On this event walkers are given the opportunity to walk up to 50 miles inside one day. We all accepted that Jocelyn would never manage to walk fifty miles, but I figured, if she walked 10 miles that would be pretty good.
I posted on Facebook that Joss would be taking part and would any friends or family like to sponsor her. I asked if people could sponsor her per mile as an incentive, and this they gladly did. In fact, with relish some family members came up with various algorithms such as 50p per mile for the first 5 miles, and then £1 per mile thereafter.
I put it all in a spreadsheet and worked out how much she might raise if she did indeed walk 10 miles. It came to around £450 which was looking nothing short of brilliant. I say this because the event was all about raising funds for Action4Diabetics who support children in Asia with Type 1 diabetes. I said “Joss, if you manage to walk 10 miles, you’re going to raise enough to keep some kid in Asia alive for a whole year.” And this resonated with her.
On the day there was another couple of kids walking as well – Charlie aged 7 and Neev aged 9. We teamed up and walked together, three parents with three kids. The weather was kind to us and the kids generally walked, skipped, jumped and ran. They played, they occupied each other with games and conversations. They ate LOADS and for once we didn’t care about how much sugar they were consuming (except for Neev maybe who is Type 1 diabetic) since they needed all this energy to get them through the day.
In fact we were regularly reminded of Neev’s additional challenge as her dad, Alister, constantly monitored her blood sugar levels through the day. As we rounded the top of Baslow Edge we paused while he administered a shot of insulin: her sugar levels were now too high. As Alister pulled out a small capsule of insulin, he held it between his thumb and finger and said “this is what it’s all about.” Something so small, but for a kid with diabetes this is the elixir of life. Our kids here in the UK, they get it on prescription. Those kids several thousand miles away, well, they don’t. Well not unless they can lay their hands on $500 every year.
We got to Baslow at around 12 miles into our hike. Charlie and his mum decided to have an extended break here. (Charlie’s mum I think might have been more knackered than Charlie: she confessed she’d never before walked more than 10 miles in her life). The girls however were raring to go. In my head I was trying to calculate all those algorithms on my spreadsheet back home working out as we went how much money Jocelyn had now raised for this deserving charity.
As we romped through the grounds of the Chatsworth Estate we seemed to be eating up the miles. I can’t tell you how proud Neev’s dad and I felt, as we marched through the 15 mile barrier. Our girls had been on the go now for a good 9 hours! The sun was getting lower in the sky and it all felt idyllic. I think we were all on an endorphin high. The girls were beginning to tire it was true, but now they were set on walking 20 miles. This ambition was very realistic, I was looking at my route-card and realised we had just a mile to go.
As we entered the picturesque and sleepy Peak District village of Youlgrave the girls were once again skipping along. They were elated. As we arrived at the scout hut, Charlie and his mum were there to greet us. They had managed to walk another 2 miles and so Charlie had walked an amazing 14 miles.
After this the kids were heroes. The local press all wanted to know about these super kids who had walked so far. Jocelyn had ended up raising in excess of £1200. (My family and friends were cleaned out). It meant that some kid in Asia wasn’t going to live for just one more year, but for three. Back home, the following week at school, the head teacher even did a whole assembly about her achievements. It really was amazing.
This year Jocelyn will enter the event again. Maybe she will walk 20 miles, maybe not. But also her brother, Patrick aged 7 will walk. I don’t know if Charlie and Neev will be joining us, but I do know if we don’t have more kids that these two are very unlikely to walk more than 10 miles. It’s the dynamic that kids bring with them that make it so much easier all round.