A Malpas grandad says he won’t let his battle with Parkinson’s stop him from climbing the world’s highest freestanding mountain.
John Saunders, of Greenfields Lane, has already bungee jumped more than 140ft from a New Zealand bridge just 18 months after being diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition, raising more than £1,000 in the process, but has now decided to set himself the ultimate challenge – climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
John, 51, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in April 2012 after years of symptoms including neck spasms, frozen shoulder and a loss of dexterity in his hand.
He had been on a business trip to Australia with wife Joanne when she suggested he bungee jump from Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand, to raise £10,000 for Parkinson’s UK.
His experience there has spurred him on to doing more fundraising, and he is currently in training for the Kilimanjaro trek in October.
John said: “To plagiarise a famous quote by George Mallory, I’m climbing Kilimanjaro because it’s there!”
“My hope is to raise awareness and, by doing so, raise money to prevent, treat and ultimately cure Parkinson’s.”
“Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and I hope that the scale of the challenge is reflected in the scale of donations that people will make.
“I am setting a personal target to raise £10,000 and will be working very hard to beat it!”
John, who has three children, two stepchildren and three granddaughters, added: “Finding a cure for Parkinson’s is still maybe five years away so you don’t need to be a genius to realise that the issue is simply one of money.
“It’s a disease that can strike anyone at any time; it’s non-discriminatory and its impact on one’s life can be devastating.
“I’m fortunate in that so far my medication, on the whole, is working well, but that’s not the case for everyone.
“When I was diagnosed I didn’t know much about Parkinson’s; I immediately thought of Muhammad Ali and Michael J Fox but when I read up on it I realised I was quite lucky it wasn’t anything worse.
“As a friend who had been talking to me about a bucket list told me, ‘you need to empty your bucket before you kick it’, so that’s what I’m doing.”
To sponsor John, visit www.justgiving.com/John-Saunders .