Local Man Needs Assistance to Complete Fundraising Challenge

Living Magazines Patrick Burke in his garden. Chilterns MS Centre fundraising challenge

Patrick Burke of Cowper Road, Berkhamsted is looking for a local business to provide a suitable location for his challenging sponsored walk this September, perhaps by way of a car park or other hard standing area, to support his fundraising efforts in raising £10,000 for the local Chilterns MS Centre based in Wendover.

Patrick Burke, 66, cannot do what other people take for granted; running, skipping and hopping stopped many years ago. In fact, Patrick’s ability to do something as simple as walk is severely impeded by Multiple Sclerosis (MS). He must focus the whole of his attention on just lifting up one leg and putting it in front of the other whenever he wants to walk.

‘The walk will be a huge challenge for me in so many ways. My limit at present is 45 minutes. The length of time that I can walk is limited by muscular fatigue and poor balance. Walking for an hour will knock me out physically for a couple of days,’ says Mr Burke.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord and is different for everyone. In Mr Burke’s case one of the effects of the disease is the transmission of messages from the brain to the left leg and foot muscles. As a result, he cannot lift his foot off the ground or hold his leg in the air.

Mt Burke cannot walk unaided. He must use a four-wheeled walker, which he must hold onto with both hands to maintain his balance. He uses a clever electrical device to stimulate muscles so he can lift his leg off the ground and take small steps. The location for the walk should be a flat tarmac surface. Walking up and down or across a slope is very difficult and walking in a tight circle challenges Mr Burke’s balance. Ideally, he would like to walk approximately 50m in a straight line, turn around and walk back, as often as he can in the space of an hour.

‘For me It feels like I’m walking in water,’ says Mr Burke. ‘It is very tiring, and my walking is excruciatingly slow. If I tried walking with walking sticks or crutches, I would fall over.’

Mr Burke was diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in 1995, though his symptoms started in 1972. In 2000, the disease morphed into Secondary Progressive MS and he took medical retirement in 2012. He is a regular visitor to the Chilterns MS Centre for physiotherapy, group exercise and one to one help to manage the disease.

‘As a small charity we are so lucky to have the incredible support of our members and supporters, especially during this pandemic. Many have opted to make the most of lockdown by doing something to help us and each other, either by volunteering to be a buddy and keeping in contact with others, or by coming up with innovative ways to fund raise, like Patrick, so that we can continue to support them and many others like them affected by this incurable condition. With all of our traditional events and collections cancelled, we are still in need of raising funds to help us keep going through to our 35th birthday in September and beyond,’ said Lauren Parker, Community Fundraising Manager.

‘There are many factors motivating me to do this,’ said Mr Burke. ‘I want to prove to myself that I can walk for an hour. And another big motivation is seeing how much money I can raise for the charity, which is an oasis for people with MS in this area and the support they provide is quite outstanding.’

To contact Patrick Burke about a location for this fundraising challenge, please telephone: 07947 024691 or email: patrick@aid4disabled.com. To make a donation, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/walk4onehour.