TWO dedicated fundraisers from Hampshire have completed their toughest challenge yet – walking the circumference of the Isle of Wight in less than 24 hours.
In a bid to raise vital funds for cardiac charity Wessex Heartbeat, Lewis Rule and Sam Williams, both aged 21, donned their walking boots to tackle the 100km trek, successfully completing the challenge in 22 hours.
The plucky duo decided to commit to the walk, which accumulated 262,466 steps between them, after being inspired by their close friend Alex Ind – a long-time supporter of Wessex Heartbeat who himself has been under the care of the charity after being born with a congenital heart condition.
“I think we can safely say that this was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done to date. Having previously only walked 50km in training, we knew this was going to be tough.
“The excitement of what lay ahead quickly wore off as it turned dark and things started getting cold, and there were plenty of challenging moments along the way. But, as the sun rose, we gained a second wind and ploughed on to the finish.
“With the inspiring story of our best mate Alex constantly in our heads – and the long-awaited beer with him at the finish line – we found the strength to complete it.”
Alex was born three-weeks premature with a condition which caused a blockage in a part of his heart that connects to the lungs, meaning his blood was not being oxygenated properly. Although a shunt was fitted to clear the blockage, investigations found he also had two holes in the heart and his internal organs were the wrong way around.
Under the care of Southampton General Hospital, including ongoing after-care support from Wessex Heartbeat, Alex has faced a lifetime of operations – including four open-heart surgeries, with the most recent performed just a year ago on May 13 2019.
Despite his condition, and as well as living with a pacemaker, Alex has embarked on a number of fundraising initiatives to support Wessex Heartbeat and Southampton General Hospital’s cardiac unit. Most recently he ran 10k for the charity, raising almost £3,000 in the process.
“Alex and his family have raised more than £100,000 in total for Wessex Heartbeat – and his strength and determination has been nothing short of incredible. We hope that our Isle of Wight challenge not only encourages people to donate to this worthy cause but also inspires people to set up their own fundraising events themselves.”
John Munro, CEO of Wessex Heartbeat said:
“I am in awe of Alex, Lewis and Sam who have each gone above and beyond in their fundraising efforts for Wessex Heartbeat. They have set an incredible example to all young people and have shown just what amazing things can be achieved with passion and determination.
“We urge everybody to support Lewis and Sam with their fundraising efforts by donating what you can through their JustGiving Page.”
To find out more about Wessex Heartbeat and Heartbeat House please visit: www.heartbeat.co.uk/.