'The Battlefund Ironman'
Let me start by setting the scene for you, my close friend Tom Stevenson who many of you know but some of you won’t continues day in day out to battle the devastating Motor Neurone Disease that he was diagnosed with 7 years ago, last year I wanted to do something to help Tom so in July 2019 I completed the Ironman UK for Tom a gruelling long distance triathlon. Holding his flag above my head as I walked over the line will be a moment I’ll never forget, pride, exhaustion and relief! Last year we raised a staggering £2,500 for his charity the #TheBattlefund which helped pay for his specialist medication bills, some house alterations as he can no longer get upstairs, specialist equipment such as a state of the art toilet and a drying machine for when he gets out of the shower, his set up is pretty remarkable and a credit to his resilience and determination to defeat this evil disease.
Unfortunately, fast forward to 2020 and Covid19 has had a major impact on everyone’s lives including Tom's, not only has Tom been completely isolated as he falls into the extremely high risk category due to the risk to his lungs it has also put a stop to two of Toms massive annual charity events; his famous Family Fun Day and the Battlefund Golf Day. Both of these events are extremely important to him, firstly the days each give him a massive boost mentally as the community, his friends and family come together for Tom, but secondly the money these events raise cover one years supply of medical costs which can amount to £2,000 per month as he has a private prescription from America that’s not covered here in the UK.
So this year I’ve decided I want to complete my second Ironman for Stevo and it will be called the ‘The Battlefund Ironman’ which i'm hoping will raise awareness for MND but also raise a bit of cash to ease his financial anxiety in these tricky times.
In July, week commencing 20th, weather dependant on which day I choose, I’ll be completing a long course triathlon or more commonly known as an ‘Ironman Triathlon’ this will consist of a 2.4 mile open water swim in Whitchurch, a 112 mile bike ride from Whitchurch to Sutton Coldfield to say hi to Tom and then back to my home in Stafford and I’ll be finishing up with a Marathon around Stafford town.
As a recap, for those of you who don’t know Tom, let me share with you his story or remind others what he’s living with every day. Seven years ago Tom was a recruitment consultant at PSR just like myself, when he began to get strange twitches in his thumb, which at the time he discounted.
Eventually, after going to the doctors and having numerous tests, he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease, also known as ALS, or more commonly known as the disease that Stephen Hawking suffered with. Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is an extremely rare, uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gradually gets worse over time. There's no cure for MND yet, but there are treatments to help reduce the impact it has on a person's daily life.
As you can imagine, on this day his life was turned upside down. He asked about his home. They replied get a bungalow. He asked about the success stories and was told “don’t get your hopes up you’ll be lucky”. And most importantly, he asked about starting a family and was horrified when they told him ‘best not to because you won’t see them grow up’. He refused to believe the words said to him, and today, 7 years down the line he and his wife are living contently with their 2 beautiful children, yes 2 children, all whilst holding down a job at PSR even though he was advised to quit and and do the things he had always dreamed of. If this doesn’t inspire you I honestly don’t know what will! It personally makes me realise how lucky I am to have the things that most take for granted, like being able to walk, run, cycle and swim which is what I try to explain to people when they don't understand why I train for these events.
Tom is always finding new ways to adapt and overcome this adversity, he comes up with entrepreneurial ways to raise money for his family whilst also incredibly increasing awareness for the disease and helping others that are suffering alongside him, physically and mentally. Tom continues to battle everyday with a smile on his face, so when you’re having a bad day all you have to do is think about Tom and it puts your life into perspective for you.
He is a true inspiration to me and everybody around him, do I feel sorry for him? No, because he doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He gets up every day and battles this disease like a man possessed. So the least I can do is put myself through a little pain and suffering whilst knowing when it gets tough that I’m doing this for a truly great guy.
I’m asking people to donate generously because although I’m putting myself through this gruelling task (even by my standards) it’s nothing in comparison to what Tom endures each and every day and believe me it’s not getting any easier for him
We need inspirational people like this in the world so this is for you Tom, keep doing what you’re doing bro.