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Lichfield woman prepares to tackle her own 10k wheelchair challenge

As the last of the runners complete the course for next weekend’s Lichfield 10K race, another 10K challenge with a difference will take to the city’s streets.

City resident Rachel Groves will be calling on a small army of family and friends to push her in her wheelchair on a 10K route around Lichfield.

The Push It for ME Research challenge on Sunday (September 9) is to raise money for research into ME/CFS, the illness that has devastated Rachel’s life, leaving her debilitated, disabled, unable to work and pretty much housebound.

Rachel Groves

Rachel Groves

Rachel, who lives in Lichfield with her husband Paul, hit on the idea for the Push It for ME Research challenge as a way of highlighting the impact the illness has on her and how she relies so heavily on others to help her on a daily basis. She said:

“My condition means I can’t run a marathon or do a skydive to fundraise. In fact I can’t even attend to my own basic self care needs on a day to day basis. So that is why I’ve asked for some help. I can only walk a very short distance without triggering a worsening of my condition so I am relying on volunteers to take me around the course. Even if I had consistently ’good’ weeks it would still take me around 60 weeks to walk 10 kilometres on my own two feet.

“Sitting in the wheelchair while being pushed might not sound like hard work for me it’s actually going to be a huge effort on my part. Due to ME/CFS I am mainly housebound and when I do go out it requires careful planning or my condition can be worsen very easily.”

Rachel relies on her husband Paul to take care of her daily care needs, a role he juggles with his own full-time career. She explained:

“I was diagnosed with ME/CFS in 2007 although I had been ill for quite a while before that. My illness affects all aspects of my life and leaves me very debilitated with a lot of horrible symptoms to contend with.”

The symptoms of ME include severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, gastric disturbances, poor memory and concentration. The illness can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or end-stage (terminal) renal failure.

It is a real, often relapsing, debilitating illness, affecting up to 150,000 people in the UK, with similar rates of incidence in Europe, USA, New Zealand and Australia.

The cause of ME is still unknown. The primary aim of ME Research UK – www.meresearch.org.uk – is to fund biomedical research into ME/CFS; to find its cause, develop effective treatments and ultimately discover a cure.

Their priority is to support novel clinical and biomedical studies and fund the work of a growing number of scientists in the UK and worldwide. Rachel added:

“I hope to do more events in the future to continue my fundraising by any means I’m able. People can still sign up to join us if they want. You can walk as far, or as little, as you like with us. You can also volunteer to push for part of the route too.”

For more information on the Push It for ME Research challenge, the route around Lichfield and ways to help Rachel, go to push-it.weebly.com. Alternatively, you can text donations: text PUSH50 £5 to 70070 (any £ amount up to £10 per text donation).

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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Group Editor for a media and publishing company - laidback, with a sunny disposition and a belief that everyone is fantastic and there's nothing wrong with modern life at all. A Welsh exile - tidy darts.

1 Comment

  1. Heather Vaughan

    11th September, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I think this Push a great idea because it’s a very visible way of reminding people about the challenges faced by those with ME.

    It’s easy to underestimate its impact if you don’t know anyone who’s experienced it and I found some new information in this article.

    Hope the Push went well!