Features Editor Alexandra Egan sat down with Christian Miller, a 22-year-old Economics student and hockey player at the University of Bath, to discuss ten monumental challenges he is undertaking this year to raise money for the Tree of Hope charity.
Christian’s nephew Theo, son of his sister Lucy Crunden, who turns 3 in August, is the motivation behind this huge undertaking in the hope of raising money for treatment and therapy. When Theo was born, his brain was starved of oxygen and he suffered Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy. This caused his quadriplegic cerebral palsy, secondary dystonia, epilepsy and visual impairment.
What exactly are the “10 challenges for Theo”?
The challenges include the London Marathon and the Bath Half. Then I’m skydiving too – I hate heights and tiny planes! I’m also running 500 miles and swimming the distance of the Channel in a year. There’s climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, the three highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales. I will also be doing the Major Series South Mud Run. Next is cycling the length of the UK – the big one! I’ll be cycling from Land’s End to John o’Groats in ten days. After that I’ll be building Theo’s Fairy Garden, as at the moment our garden is either too grassy or has really uneven turf for my nephew, who will be in a wheelchair. Therefore we are going to build a little maze walkway with lighting for him. Finally there’s creating a website, so we can post updates and photos and have a story behind this; a sort of combination of Facebook, Just Giving and selling tickets for future events to raise money.
Why 10 challenges? A marathon is crazy enough…
Yes, people think I’ve lost my mind! Mainly the scale of it is what I am aiming for. I wanted to stand out as there are plenty who do challenges everyday, I wanted people to think “Wow that guy is crazy!”, which is mostly the response I’ve had. I’m pretty nervous as the challenges are all hard work and vary too.
How can other people get involved?
So people can either create their own Just Giving page, say I am going to swim the distance of the Channel for my friend for example. They can also just post on Facebook saying I am going to be doing this, here is where I would love sponsorship to go and post my link. One of the girls I used to work with at the University has done that for the Bath Half for Theo, which is really nice.
Do you hope that this will not only raise money for your nephew, Theo, but also awareness for other people suffering with Cerebral Palsy?
Yes, definitely! There are many children who suffer with Cerebral Palsy and Tree of Hope helps to provide for children who need specialist care and specialist treatment. Tree of Hope covers mostly neurological and disability issues, and help children who need surgery and treatment. It also doesn’t just have to be for children suffering with Cerebral Palsy. The money raised is so important in providing treatment to the likes of my nephew; in helping kids receive therapy and treatment that help things like movement in an effective way. The equipment needed will also constantly change as Theo grows, like a wheelchair.
You must be quite overwhelmed with support. You have helped to raise over £20,000 with your family so far…
Yes, it’s amazing! From the very first day I put it on Facebook people started donating who had seen the Facebook post through friends of friends and people sharing it. The support is incredible, I don’t know anyone else who has survived doing this! Now that I’ve committed I have to see it through and complete all of the challenges, and the messages of support and donations make it so worthwhile. £50,000 is the five-year target.
What would you like to say to our bathimpact readers?
Thank you to all those who have donated so far and anymore donations would be fantastic! To be honest though I love it when people want to get involved, if anyone wants to raise money either for Theo or for a charity of their own but don’t have the confidence to do it alone then I would love them to contact me! I would love it if everyone kept updated with my events on my blog at http://tenbigchallengesfortheo.blogspot.co.uk/ where people can also check events and dates on a regular basis!
For more information or to donate, please visit Christian’s fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/tenbigchallengesfortheo or his sister’s page at https://www.justgiving.com/thinkingoftheo/
Photo credits: Christian Miller & Thinking of Theo UK