Sherri: Adelaide Mom walks 1500 kms from Alice Springs to Darwin to create awareness about Epilepsy
According to a report by Epilepsy Action Australia, about 250,000 Australians suffer from Epilepsy, but the awareness about the condition is woefully short. To change the status quo and initiate more dialogue around the debilitating condition, Adealidean mother Sherri started Walk Of Hope. On May 4th this year the 41-year-old started walking from Alice Springs to Darwin - almost 1500 kilometres - in a bid to raise awareness about Epilepsy and to generate funds for the Jaymie-Lee Ross Foundation. This is not Sherri’s first long distance walk for the cause.
In September 2017, Sherri walked 1600 kilometres from Adelaide to Alice Springs along the Stuart Highway. She took 43 days to reach her destination and collected $10,000 which she donated to organisations that help families affected by Epilepsy.
The phone call
On July 21, 2014, a phone call completely changed Sherri’s life. “My daughter Emily had her first seizure that day. She was with my parents when it occurred and Paramedics had to be called because her seizure went on for five minutes. I saw her in the hospital after she was brought in by an ambulance, and the gravity of the situation hit me hard! It took every bit of self-control to keep my emotions in check. My daughter looked stunned, dazed, and bewildered. That’s when my motherly instincts kicked in and I vowed to protect my daughter with my every breath,” says Sherri.
Sherri’s personal tryst with the condition brought her face-to-face with the widespread ignorance about Epilepsy in Australia. “I decided I wanted to do something about it. I promised myself that once we got out of this hellish journey, I would draw attention to the condition so that other families in similar circumstances would get better support,” she says.
Surprising people, according to Sherri was the best way to gain attention. This, in turn, would give her the leverage to talk about the disease. “It’s not often that one sees a 41-year-old single mom walk the Stuart Highway! It helps create conversations – getting people to talk, and ask questions – which in turn educates people, and breaks down the stigmas surrounding Epilepsy. There’s also a sense of willingness to share how Epilepsy has affected individuals when they know they won’t be judged,” she explains.
To prepare herself for the walk, Sherri invested many hours training. “I completed a lot of mindset training because this type of journey is more mental than physical. I have a mentor and two coaches who have prepared me well. I am also grateful to my personal assistant who did a lot of research and planning, because of which I was able to focus on preparing myself,” says Sherri.
Sherri is travelling with her coaches and crew, Christian (Quality Relationships) and Bri (The Live Free Movement), and her daughter will join her at Tennant Creek, but she walks most of the distance on her own. “We have a motor home in which we sleep. But along the way, we have had people donating powered sites and helping with motel accommodations for which I am extremely grateful. I organised sausage sizzles and raffles to fund the walk,” she explains.
One of the biggest challenges that Sherri faces is blisters on her feet from the continuous walking. “However, I am well prepared. I have brought a lot of bandages, good shoes and socks with me,” she says.
The reception that the Adelaidean has received is motivating. “It's not only Epilepsy impacted families that have reacted positively to my initiative, but also families that have grappled with other types of conditions. Many come up to me and say they are inspired by my attempts at creating awareness. Their gratitude is my fuel," she adds.
Having a support mechanism
Sherri adds that in spite of the support system her daughter has, the fear of Emily having an attack in Sherri’s absence never goes away. “You just learn to manage it by putting as many safety nets as possible; ensuring my phone number is with all her friends, no locked bathrooms, and keeping stress to a minimum, among other precautions,” she says.
“Every person diagnosed with Epilepsy can enjoy a good life with the right support system in place. Never, ever give up even when your journey gets rough because, remember, a rainbow follows rain. Know your values, purpose, and mission in life and gain power from that knowledge to make a difference,” says Sherri.
To support Sherri go to her GoFundMe page.
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