Alex and Julie’s La Velodyssee – Camino del Norte

Alex Akers and Julie Ward are fundraising for us this Spring. Julie tells her story and why she is fundraising here:

“My boyfriend Alex and I are raising money for Epilepsy research UK and have combined a cycle tour and a hike as our fundraiser. 

We leave on the 3rd of April to catch the ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff with our road bikes, from there we will cycle along the La Vélodyssée. This is the longest cycle route in France; 1200km (746 miles ) along the Atlantic coast. This will already be a huge challenge to us as although we have spent many hours on mountain bikes in Scotland, road biking is a whole different ball game to us! When we reach the border of Spain we will then ship our bikes home to the UK and begin our hike through Spain. We will be following the Camino del Norte, one of the tougher Camino routes as we will be walking through the mountainous region of Spain. This is an 830km (516 miles) walk through Northern Spain ending in Santiago de Compostella. 

We’ve chosen to do this for Epilepsy Research UK as I am a diagnosed epileptic, as hard as that is to admit sometimes. I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 16 years old. It started with just the feeling of deja-vu and a slight tingling up my left arm.

 I met Alex at a point when I was having two seizures a month. He would sit with me through every episode and then make me a cup of tea and talk me through what just happened again and again as the world was slowly coming back into focus for me.

Things are more controlled now but it has still changed our lives hugely, as if we’ve had to sign a terms and conditions contract that effects what we do day to day.

We are not only raising money to help find a cause and cure, but to also make epilepsy a not so taboo subject. Even sharing our story with close friends has been hard enough. I found that admitting to others that I have epilepsy is an embarrassing thing to do. I hate to think of young adults newly diagnosed having to go through the ups and downs of growing up whilst being embarrassed and worried that someone may find out that they occasionally have seizures.  Still today the word ‘seizure’ or ‘fit’ or ‘episode’ makes me feel sick. 

Promoting our cause and sharing our story has been really hard but I no longer feel embarrassed to wear our charity t-shirts with ‘Epilepsy Research UK’ printed on them. Preparing for this trip has made it easier personally to deal with epilepsy and I hope that someday it won’t be such a touchy subject and we will see more talk of treatments and cures in daily news. “

Our thanks go to Alex and Julie for sharing their story and raising money for research.  You can support them and help them reach their target here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Alex-Julie