Burgess Hill woman with cerebral palsy raises thousands for Chailey Heritage Foundation with three-mile walk
A woman with cerebral palsy is aiming to raise £5,000 for Chailey Heritage Foundation by walking three miles (or 5K) in one day.
Anna Grace Taylor, 40, of Beacon Crescent, Burgess Hill, said this will be the furthest she has ever walked.
Her challenge begins on Hove seafront at 10.30am on Saturday (September 18), and she will walk one mile at a time with a rest in between.
Anna will walk her second mile near her home in Burgess Hill at 1.30pm and she aims to complete the final mile on Lindfield Common at 4.30pm.
“I use four times more energy to move and walk than the average person,” said Anna, who works as an angel therapist, spiritual mentor and author.
“I walk with crutches and sometimes use a wheelchair if I’m doing things like shopping or travelling,” she said, adding that a mile’s walk takes her roughly one hour.
“By the time I get to half a mile it’s like doing a jog,” she said.
“I get hot, I get tired, my muscles hurt, it’s like the average person doing major exercise.”
Anna explained that she was born 11 weeks prematurely with her twin sister and that her cerebral palsy was likely caused by lack of oxygen at birth.
“I learned to walk when I was six years old,” she said, adding that she had bone and muscle surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital when she was 14 to improve her walking.
She was at Warden Park Academy, Cuckfield, at the time and was told that if she did not have the surgery she would be in a wheelchair by age 30.
Anna said the operation improved her walking but affected her health in other ways.
“My immune system crashed and I became really sick,” she said.
This illness continued into her 20s but the hardships inspired Anna to choose a career in counselling and therapy so she could help other people.
“In my teens and 20s I was really unable to do anything,” she said. “I couldn’t work and I couldn’t go to college.”
Thankfully, Anna said she has become ‘stronger and healthier’ over the past ten years.
She went on to say that her charity challenge is about helping others, improving her mobility and feeling good at the same time.
Last year she completed 40 miles of walking in 40 weeks.
This feat marked her 40th birthday and raised £11,060 for Reigate youngster Gabe Whitelock, who has cerebral palsy and needed treatment in the UK and USA to help him walk.
Anna said that her current state of health ‘has never been better’.
“Years ago I couldn’t walk for more than five minutes,” she said. “But I just did two miles on Hove Seafront to practice.”
That said, she still feels that her three-mile walk will be a real challenge.
But she said the Chailey Heritage Foundation, one of the UK’s leading centres for young people with neurodisabilities, is close to her heart and that it is important to support its work.
“I did go there as an outpatient when I was a teenager and my brother-in-law’s family were also very involved there,” she said.
Anna said she hopes to share the experience of the walk with her friends and family in the Sussex area.
“A friend of mine from the US is coming to support me, which is really lovely,” she said.
“It’s going to be a huge milestone in my life to know that I can do this at the same time as raising as much money as possible.”
Visit Anna’s JustGiving page here to find out more and make a donation.
Find out more about the care and educational services at Chailey Heritage Foundation at chf.org.uk.