Mountain challenge to raise money for muscular dystrophy charity

A young woman has announced plans to conquer Kilimanjaro in support of her young brother, who has been diagnosed with a debilitating muscle-wasting disease.

Twelve-year-old Leon Gardiner has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition which affects around 2,500 people in the UK.

Now his older sister Emma, from Ashford, Kent, has resolved to climb Africa’s highest mountain to raise vital funds for new treatments.

Miss Gardiner told Kent Online how a whole host of people had got together to support research.

“We formed Team Leon – which consists of family and friends – in 2011 after Leon’s diagnosis and have taken part in marathons, skydives, a fire walk, markets, fetes and pub quizzes,” she said.

“We have raised £20,000 towards funding research to find a cure for Duchenne.”

Leon, who lives in Devon, where Emma herself grew up, has been left wheelchair-bound by the condition. His symptoms will get more severe as time goes by and sadly the disease is likely to mean that the schoolboy has a significantly shortened lifespan.

Twenty-seven-year-old Emma said she would be ascending the peak, which stands at almost 6000 metres, in September. She will be joined by her uncle, David Maggs, and the climb is expected to take 11 days.

“My inspiration to keep doing these challenges [comes from] the desperation to stop my brother suffering,” she said.

“The strength I’ve gained from my brother and how he manages his condition and how positive he is day-to-day means I can find the strength to climb Kilimanjaro.

“This is our biggest challenge yet, self-funded and 100 per cent of funds raised goes to Duchenne Now, where all money goes solely to research and trials for Duchenne.”

At EnViva Paediatric Care, our experienced staff can provide complex nurse-managed homecare for babies, children and young people with a range of disabling conditions, including muscular dystrophy. For more information about the services we provide, please contact us today.