Friday 21st August 2020,
North Edinburgh Community News

Helen is climbing Kilimanjaro – at Cramond

Helen Wass O’Donnell is a self-confessed mad person.

And the challenge she is undertaking is a little bit of madness too.

Helen has health challenges which in anyone with less courage would mean she ought to be sitting at home.

The purpose of her challenge is to raise funds for the MS Therapy Centre Lothian by ‘climbing’ Kilimanjaro without leaving Edinburgh. Until autumn last year she was training with a band of eight equally mad friends before a planned trip to Kilimanjaro this year.

Sadly, due to a serious fall, as well as travel restrictions because of Covid-19, Helen could not complete her challenge. So she has got herself a special bike called a race runner. This is a kind of assisted walking trike and Helen is going to walk 3.663 miles each day which is the height in miles of Mt Kilimanjaro.

The intrepid Helen is walking every day, usually down at Cramond where we met up with her and hopes to achieve her goal by the first week in September.

By then she will have completed about 120 miles or so. As well as her recent fall, Helen has Multiple Sclerosis and Brainstem Encephalitis, both conditions which affect her ability to walk. Helen has used the therapy centre and explained what it is like.

She said: “The MS centre is a brilliant place where a wide range of people gather for group and individual therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, physiotherapy, massage, Reiki, hypnotherapy, pilates, yoga, and a great cup of tea and a natter.

“Their support for me over the last ten plus years has been brilliant!! They are an amazing bunch of dedicated professionals and volunteers and the centre needs as much support as possible, especially during the coronavirus crisis.”

Helen is also a bit of champion as she has taken part in some races with her road runner.

She added: “I can’t walk unaided, I need a stick so this is quite a challenge for me. But I first got the trike after trying one out in a park in Tranent. I have competed a couple of times – in fact I’m the Scottish champion over 50 metres or something like that.

“There were only about seven or eight people in the race mind you! They are thinking of making this an Olympic sport so I might be an Olympic champion yet!”

You can support Helen here

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