Some time near the end of 2010, a Twitterpal announced that Tony Horne, a presenter on our local radio station, was recruiting volunteers to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to raise money for The Childrens Society. My ears pricked up immediately and I went off to the Metro Radio website to find out more.
I was intrigued for three reasons...
1. THE CHARITY
I have a huge amount of respect for The Childrens Society and the work they do with/on behalf of young people in the UK. If you want to find out more about the organisation you can click here but in summary, The Children's Society is committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. They give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through their campaigns and research, they seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.
Now let me just say first of all that I'm not a prolific charity campaigner as such but, as is probably the way with most people, I try to support one or two causes which are dear to my heart for personal reasons. The causes I support generally fall into three main areas and I think they represent the most vulnerable groups; children, those who experience mental health issues and animal welfare. Those who are often not in a position to defend themselves really.
In any event, The Childrens Society does good stuff in relation to an issue that's very dear to my heart, not least because of the way they support youngsters who run away from home and indeed their most recent fundraising appeal focuses explicitly on this issue.
For example, do you know that around 100,000 children under the age of 16 run away from home each year? And do you realise that around a quarter of these youngsters are under the age of 11?
It's a sobering thought but it's close to my heart because I was one of those runaways myself at one point. I left home at the age of 11 and I was away for over six weeks. As a result I was taken into care and saw out my teenage years in a variety of kids homes so I hope you can understand that I'm not all 'ladies who lunch' and that my reasons for taking part in this challenge are driven by a genuine desire to give something back to the support system that was there for me when I needed it.
2. I'M FAT!
There you are. I said it out loud. And if I say it out loud I have to do something about it right? Because I've committed myself to it and you've witnessed it. And that's gotta be a good thing because boy, have I struggled to do something about it on my own so far.
I bounced off my quad bike in June 2009 and trashed my left leg so badly that I was lucky not to lose it altogether from the knee down. Fortunately, a fairly brilliant orthopaedic surgeon carried out some nifty reconstructive surgery and as a result, I'm now fully mobile again.
Well I say 'fully mobile' but to be perfectly honest I might struggle to defend that claim if I was challenged in a court of law because you see somehow, during the months I sat on a chair with my leg in the air waiting for it to 'deflate' sufficiently to withstand the assault of surgery, I think I kind of forgot how to move altogether. Even once I'd actually had surgery, it took months before I was on my feet and walking without my walking frame or crutches and by that time I had piled on stones in weight.
Now I'd like to say this was purely down to the period of enforced inactivity but alas, I was a chunky bird even before this event occurred and I must accept all of the responsibility for making it a whole lot worse.
I mean, it's perfectly reasonable to assume I would get a tad grumpy and out of sorts while all of this was going on but did I really have to comfort eat my own body weight in buttery shortbread biscuits on a daily basis? Really?
Anyhow, I clearly lack self discipline as I'm still the same weight now, despite the fact that there is no reason on earth to stop me exercising and getting down to a sensible weight again. I swam my first width of a pool in August 2010 and I should have been swimming almost every day since then to build up my muscles again, particularly in my leg where the grafts needed support.
Instead, I've struggled to get into any sort of routine and I go through fairly erratic phases of enthusiastic early morning swims interspersed with longer periods where I don't exercise at all which is definitely not a good thing for a person with a sedentary job.
I feel sluggish, heavy and lazy and to be honest I'm really struggling with it all so I'm hoping that by committing to this challenge I'm putting a goal in place which will help to focus/motivate me to establish a decent exercise routine before I get so heavy that I'm confined to my bed and have to be winched out of the window by crane to be taken to hospital when I have my first heart attack!
3. IT'S THE INCA TRAIL! IT'S MACHU PICCHU!
I mean seriously, who wouldn't if they got the opportunity? I've been rock climbing, I've abseiled from bizarre places, I've bungee jumped, I've tried all kinds of strange things (although for obvious reasons, it's probably best not to dwell on the quad biking) so I'm obviously going to leap (Ho Ho Ho) at the opportunity to walk the Inca trail. Now all I have to to do is get fit...
Oh, and there's also the *tiny* matter of raising the sponsorship money too, which is where you come in dear reader.
You knew there was a catch didn't you? Well you're right, there is. I really need your support to do this so if you've been inspired by reading about the work of The Childrens Society and you're in a position to help then please do so by making a donation on my Just Giving page.
In return you can follow my progress week by week between now and May when we set off. Assuming I'm fit enough and make the sponsorship target of course. But we should be able to manage that if we work together, right?
Your donation will make a huge difference to the life of a young person who may be really struggling to navigate their way through a challenging childhood and to make even more of an impact, if you're a UK tax payer, please do remember to tick the box so that the Society can claim gift aid on your donation. It really does make an enormous difference to the overall amount we raise.
It would also be utterly brilliant if you could do everything within your power to help promote this blog. We have a long way to go in terms of sponsorship and we need all the help that we can get so please do tell your friends about it.
Re-tweet it on Twitter, shout about it on Facebook, post links to it from your own blog, get a t-shirt printed or perhaps even a hat?
In fact, yes! Get a hat!
A huge, beautiful fedora with 'JULES INCA-REDIBLE JOURNEY' printed around the rim. You'd suit that you gorgeous, sexy thing you! ;)
Thanks so much for helping to support this project. Please do feel free to add comments or suggestions at any point and thanks again for reading.