Not long after I started this blog I wrote about joining the local group of Ataxia UK. For me, it was a big step considering I’d previously avoided similar ‘support’ groups. I’ve quickly got more involved with the group and the charity as a whole and am doing more than I thought I would. For me, it’s not just about raising money to help others – it gives me something constructive to do and I feel like my efforts are actually being valued.
The money I raise probably won’t help me (I’m beyond help in so many ways) but if it can provide earlier and more accurate diagnosis than the 15 years of umming and aahing I experienced, medication, independence-saving equipment, appropriate care or treatment for others then I’ve done a good thing. It boosts my self-esteem so I guess it is helping me after all. See, the thing with lots of conditions is that you tend to focus on what you can’t do and give up on life – I nearly gave up blogging a while ago – and there’s no getting away from that, but when people ask you to do things it makes you proud of your talents. Recently I was asked to write an article for the Ataxia UK magazine. I know I’m a good writer, over a dozen books to my name, but it made me feel good to actually be appreciated and wanted.
The first fundraiser I was part of was a summer fete a couple of weeks ago where we took over £700. For the first time ever, I had my own pitch with two tables full of things I had made. Blazing sunshine kept people away so we didn’t get as many people through the doors and looking at my stuff as we hoped but I made quite a few sales and the people who did look seemed to appreciate my efforts. Yes, it was upsetting that I didn’t do as well as I hoped but I felt really accomplished when I had to ask for the extra table so I could display a bit of everything I had made. One person said the items she bought would be gifts for her friends. So, either my stuff is of high enough quality to be a present or she just doesn’t like her friends that much! In a couple of months, we are going to hold a quiz night with entertainment and a meal all thrown in for a tenner. Again, once food costs are taken out, everything goes to the charity. We rely on the goodness of others for raffle prizes and we always get a few goodies from big businesses. The group are yet to set down the final details for it but if you’re local to the West Midlands, fancy a great night out and want to help a good case, I’ll give you more info when I have it.
There are two enormous physical challenges coming up – the Gauntlet Games and a skydive. Due to my disability, I can’t take part in the Gauntlet Games – a 5K obstacle course in a field just outside Cardiff – though belting me to my wheelchair and pushing me down the mud slide sounds like awesome fun! I’ll be sitting on the sidelines waving pompoms as a team of 20 try to complete it for Dudley Attacks Ataxia and laughing as Laurence, doing it on my behalf, wimps out halfway through. He’s been training hard though; he is two thirds of the way through the Couch to 5K. In October, Ataxia UK is holding a fundraising day with Skyline who help lots of charities raise money through skydives. I’ll be doing that one, I’m the adrenaline junkie in this relationship, and I really can’t wait. The prospect of jumping out of a plane is less terrifying than knowing I have to give notice of marriage next week, perhaps softened by the fact it’s a tandem dive so if I die the instructor dies too. Positive thinking.
Links to the fundraising pages for both events are at the bottom of this page.
Maybe there’s more I could be doing to help. Maybe another charity could benefit from my brilliance. I think I’m doing enough though.