“One of the hardest challenges of my life”
Paignton Academy’s Learning Support Assistant Luke Kenshole hasn’t walked any distance since the age of ten. Born with cerebral palsy, he has very little muscle in his legs and he’s been a wheelchair user for the last 30 years. So it was with phenomenal courage, driven by a fierce sense of community spirit, that Luke decided to take on a 225-metre challenge to raise funds for Rowcroft Hospice. In this inspiring blog, he shares how through relentless training, endless determination and with the aid of a walking frame, he completed his impressive walk along Paignton seafront, and raised an incredible £6000 for the hospice.
Supporting the local community
“I wanted to fundraise for Rowcroft as a way of giving back to the local community,” says Luke. “I’ve lived in Torbay all my life, and I always want to help my local community and to be able to make a difference. I feel very fortunate to have a good life, but I want to be able to help other people too. For me, that’s what life’s all about.”
“Two years ago, I wasn’t in a very good place physically or mentally. I wasn’t enjoying life, I was struggling a lot with back pain, and I was struggling at work. I knew I had to do something to improve my health, so I started working with Personal Trainer Tom Murch from Winners Gym in Paignton. In those two years I’ve become so much stronger and fitter. I’ve improved my muscles and strength in my upper body, so that with the use of a K frame I can walk by dragging my legs along. Training for this challenge was the only real walking I’ve done in 30 years!”
Taking on the challenge
“I wanted to do something to celebrate the fact that I’ve improved so much mentally and physically. And what better way of doing this than a sponsored walk to raise money for Rowcroft! I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to take on this challenge two years ago.
“I’d been training for the best part of a year for the 225-metre challenge. But on the actual day of the walk, when I stood at the start line and looked at the course I thought, ‘Blimey, that’s a long way!’ It was all a bit of a blur and I couldn’t really take everything in. There were hundreds of people who came along to cheer me on. I was desperate to do myself justice and complete the walk, as I didn’t want to let anyone down.
“The adrenalin helped, and the crowd spurred me on. I rushed it a bit at the start, and the middle section was very difficult, but the end was easy because I could see the finish line not far away. There was no way I wasn’t going to complete the course; it just wasn’t an option not to finish because I’d never have forgiven myself. When I got to the end, I was just so exhausted. Walking is definitely not my thing!”
Making a difference
“Looking back, it was an unforgettable day, and I’m so pleased that I did it for the hospice. Rowcroft is an amazing charity that helps so many people in their hour of greatest need. You never know if or when you’re going to need Rowcroft in the future, but our community will always have a need for the hospice’s services. The charity has made such a difference to so many families over the years – that’s why I wanted to raise money for the hospice. It feels great to be able to help such a fantastic cause.
“It’s easy to take an organisation like Rowcroft for granted, and to assume it will always be there. But we have to remember, this is a charity dependent on people’s donations to keep it going. It’s important that charities like Rowcroft are always supported so that the community can call upon its services when needed.”
The Big Tackle
“As a wheelchair user, I also do The Big Tackle eight-mile circuit each year for Rowcroft. I’ve been doing it since it first started in 2019. It’s a really good atmosphere and it’s great that everyone’s there for the common goal of raising money and awareness for the hospice.”
Raising funds for the hospice
If you have a fabulous fundraising thought, would like to choose Rowcroft as your club’s charity of the year, just can’t wait to jump out of a plane, want to walk to raise funds, or would love to get involved and need inspiration, please get in touch! Please contact Debbi Shotton, Rowcroft’s Senior Community Fundraising Officer, on 01803 210833 or email email@example.com