In July 2013, two colleagues from the University of Birmingham will attempt the gruelling challenge of cycling from London to Paris in under four days, to raise awareness and funds for a rare neurodegenerative disease.
Michelle Khan-Price and Cheryl Shepherd from the University’s Learning and Development team are hoping to raise £4,000 to help sufferers – and their carers – of Picks disease, a cause that is close to their hearts.
Picks disease causes the progressive destruction of nerve cells in the brain, leading to the loss of speech (aphasia) and dementia. At present, there is no known cure for this degenerative disease and patients often die within two to ten years. Michelle’s mother, Charmaine, has been living with the condition for eight years and the cycling duo are hoping that their charity ride will bring increased awareness to this little-known, yet crippling condition.
As part of their mammoth cycle, Michelle and Cheryl will have to cover some 80 miles a day in order to bridge the two capital cities of the UK and France between 31 July and 4 August. This is no mean feat when you consider that both women had not ridden a bike since they were teenagers. Training for the challenge has seen them endure a strict regime during the week before work and lengthy 50 mile trips across the West Midlands, Warwickshire and Worcestershire on weekends.
Funds raised from Michelle and Cheryl’s expedition will go to the Frontotemporal Dementia Support Group, particularly directed towards carers who are coping with behavioural changes in a partner, family member or friend as a result of frontotemporal dementia – including Picks disease. They will also be supporting the National Brain Appeal (formerly the National Hospital Development Foundation) – the charity dedicated to raising funds for The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London and one of the world’s leading neurological centres.
Michelle says “Picks disease strikes when you are in your prime. Diagnosis can take up to three years and although there is no progressive deterioration leading to death, there is no treatment.
“My mum is in the final stages of this cruel disease and we want to raise awareness of its rarity and to help to meet the needs of those who care for people with Picks.
“Money raised will help to provide peer support and specialist experience for the carers and, through the National Brain Appeal, your money will be used to further our understanding of Picks disease.”
People are able to support Michelle and Cheryl’s cause by donating via www.justgiving.com/Cheryl-Shepherd1
To find out more about the National Brain Appeal visit: www.nationalbrainappeal.org
To find out more about the Frontotemporal Dementia Support Group visit: www.ftdsg.org