Sherri: Mom walks 1600 kms to create awareness about Epilepsy
Every phone call fills Sheralyn Rachel Beck (Sherri) with trepidation. After all, it was a phone call three years ago that brought her the news of her daughter’s first and longest epileptic fit. The incident also taught Sherri about the acute ignorance surrounding the condition. According to a report by Epilepsy Action Australia, about 250,000 Australians (almost 96,000 people through the centre of Australia) suffers from Epilepsy, but the awareness about it is woefully short. To change the status quo, Sherri, under the aegis of her initiative Walk Of Hope, planned to walk 1600 kms from Adelaide to Alice Springs along the Stuart Highway. She started her journey on September 23, and wants to generate 20,000 dollars. The funds collected will be donated to families affected by Epilepsy.
The phone call:
On July 21, 2014, a phone call changed Sherri’s life completely. “My daughter Emily had her first seizure that day. She was with my parents when it occurred. Paramedics had to be called as her seizure went on for five minutes. I saw her in the hospital after she was brought in by an ambulance. And, that’s when the reality of the situation hit me! It took every bit of self-control to keep my emotions in check. My daughter looked stunned, dazed, and bewildered. It was at that moment that my motherly instincts kicked in and I vowed to fight and protect my daughter with my every breath,” says the 39-year-old.
Sherri’s personal tryst with condition made her realise the lack of awareness around Epilepsy. “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 39-year-old single mom walk the Stuart highway! It is about creating a conversation – getting people to talk, and ask questions. These conversations will educate people, and break down 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. I am also hoping that getting people to talk will change the fact that The Epilepsy Centre here in South Australia and Northern Territory receives no government funding,” she explains.
To prepare herself for the many hours of walking, Sherri undertook a huge amount of research and 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 a driver, her daughter, and a support crew, but she walks most of the distance on her own. “We have a caravan in which we sleep. But along the way, we have had people donating powered sites and helping with motel accommodation for which I am hugely grateful. I used my own funds to prepare for the journey,” she explains. She adds, “I organised charity garage sales and gala dinners to fund this trip.”
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 this Adelaidean has received is varied. “The reaction goes from total understanding and encouragement to being labelled a crazy person. But the support I have received from the families impacted by Epilepsy is unbelievable. I feel their gratitude is my fuel," she adds.
Having a support mechanism:
Sherri adds that in spite of the support system she has kept in place for her daughter the fear of Emily having an attack in her mother’s absence never goes away. “You just learn to manage it by knowing you have put in place as many safety nets as possible; ensuring my phone number is with all her friends, no locked bathrooms, keep stress to a minimum,” she says.
“Every person diagnosed with Epilepsy can enjoy a good life with the right support system in place. Never ever give up when your journey gets rough because a rainbow follows rain. Know your values, purpose, and mission in life because that’s where your power is to make a difference," says Sherri.
To support Sherri logo onto her GoFundMe page.
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