Our trekker of the month is Katie Bizzey, who has now completed two treks with Across the Divide plus taken part in four Just Walks. We asked Katie some questions about her treks, motivation plus much more.
1. What made you want to do a charity challenge
My daughter Laura has Muscular Dystrophy. With no treatment or cure for the disease, as a parent I feel hugely helpless that there was nothing I could do to help my child. When I saw a charity trek challenge advertised by our disease-supporting charity, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, I decided that this would be something positive for me to do in the face of this terrible disease Laura lives with. I have always enjoyed a ‘good walk’ and have tramped in NZ, gone ‘off road’ walking in India and so on, but never walked to any level of challenge in a group.
2. Why did you choose Morroco
Morrocco was a coincidence! I chose to trek in aid of Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and that was their trek location! Luckily for me, it is, in my opinion, a good ‘starter trek’.
3. Why did you choose ATD
ATD is Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s chosen adventure challenge company so they weren’t MY choice, but an excellent choice made by MDC and I would never even look at a competitors website: if ATD cant take me to a specific location, I will stay home!!
4. Which charity did you fundraise/trek for and why
As I said my daughter has MD so I was already attached to MDC the charity who support people with muscle disease. They work tirelessly raising awareness and funds for research and cures into muscle disease, for which currently there are none. They offer support and advice to sufferers and their carers and were, to me a lifeline at a very difficult time.
5. Tell me a bit about your fundraising and training:
I had never fundraised before. That was the scarey part of the whole challenge. I knew that if I walked far enough often enough, I would get fit enough! But raising money was a tough one, I felt. But I was given some great guidelines from MDC and I was away! It wasnt hard at all. I discovered that approached correctly, people were very very generous. I did write some letters asking directly to be supported for my challenge. But I was a lot more comfortable arranging events for people to enjoy for a fee. I dont think anyone minds paying to have a good time. If you want to play golf, go for a meal, look around a stately home and so on, you pay. So it is fine to arrange an event and ask a fee. I arrange charity walks! Just like ATD ha! I set two route lengths, give coffee at the start, sell raffle tickets, have a produce table and give soup etc at the end. With around 30 people I can raise £700. I am about to organise a summer lunch in my garden – probably with a good walk as well. My daughter did a cake sale at our local plant nursery. We organise a bridge drive each October which is a rolling sell out. It is not difficult once you find your strength and stlye.
I have to say I didnt need to be motivated. I loved every minute of the training and fundraising. It is, though, all very very time consuming and my small part-time business was a tad neglected.
Since my trek in Morrocco, in one way or another, I am always signed for a challenge and always fundraising. The time I give to it depends, now, on the time I have available and that varies hugely.
6. Best thing about your trek
That is a really hard question! Everything was just The Best. Perhaps the fact that 90% of us had a family link with the MD. I hadnt met anyone else who had a child, Mum, cousin and so on with MD. I found peace and consolation amongst a group of people who offered each other time and compassion. BUT: one of the best things about the trek would be that more than 4 years on, with a couple of exceptions, we are all in touch with each other! Twenty or so strangers who are bound together by a friendship formed from a unique experience.
7. Worst thing about the trek
The minibus ride 3 hours back to the hotel at the end maybe. But I have had to think quite hard to find a bad thing to say!
8. Best bit of kit you took
My skirt! So lovely to walk in on a boiling hot dry breezey day.
9. Joke/funniest moment of the trek
Oh my goodness – there is not enough space to write about the laughs. Vinny, our expedition leader told us at the Last Supper that he hadnt guided such a laughter filled group before.
10. One thing you’d recommend to anyone thinking about going on a charity challenge
11. One thing you’ll take away with you
A whole new aspect to my life
12. Was there good camaraderie amongst the group
Our expedition leaders told us that it was rare to have such a united supportive group who intermingled and walked together with the constant rumble of chat and laughter.
13. Can you sum up the trip in a sentence……
Unexpectedly awesomely lifechanging experience – and then there was the walk itself: beautiful serene and calming.