A TEENAGER who has a muscle wasting disease which leaves her unable to walk, wheeled herself 80 miles across the Lake District to raise more than £28,000 for charity.
Although the genetic condition Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) has confined 15-year-old Millie Hawes from Alpraham, Tarporley, to a wheelchair throughout her whole life, her disability didn’t stop her taking part in a gruelling challenge to raise funds for research into the disease.
The incurable condition affecting the motor neurons in the spinal chord limiting movements, causes severe physical disability and sometimes even premature death, especially in infants.
Millie’s type 2 level of the disease means that although she is a normal teenager in every other way, she is unable to walk, stand or even crawl.
Determined to do something positive to inspire other sufferers of the disease, Millie last month embarked on the ‘Miles without Stiles’ challenge, which is a series of more than 40 Lake District walks accessible to wheelchair users.
With her parents and siblings tagging along for support, Millie set herself the remarkable challenge of completing as many walks as she could within four days, in all kinds of weather.
“I can honestly say it was harder than I thought it would be,” said Millie, a straight A student at The Grange School in Hartford.
“One day we had torrential rain and I had to be pushed a lot of the way, and wear a special poncho to cover my chair.
“We took a wrong turning on one of the walks and ended up having to go through cow and sheep fields which were really muddy so that was quite tough.
“We were so tired, but what got me through was all the people who had put so much money in. I couldn’t let them down.”
Her parents Sophie and Mike said they are ‘just so proud’ of their eldest daughter, who took to the bumpy roads from 9am each morning until 8pm with her two electric wheelchairs and an endless supply of chocolate.
“We’d been trying to find an activity that Millie could do for so long but there are such limitations with her physical ability,” added Mike, 46.
“But this was something she could do and it was very draining for her but she has inspired so many people to do similar activities for the SMA charity which is great. We are just so proud of her.”
You can still sponsor Millie directly by donating online at www.justgiving.com/ team-millie.