Stansted woman sets off on 32-mile walk to Cambridge in memory of uncle who lost battle with Huntington's disease
A Stansted woman who lost her uncle to an incurable disease took on a 32-mile walk in his memory, raising £800 for vital research into the genetic disorder.
Jade Bolton, 30, boyfriend George Addison-Atkinson, 25, both of Stoneyfield Drive, and their friend William Eve, 30, set off at 6.30am last Saturday (May 15) on the hike to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Hills Road, Cambridge.
Suffering from severe blistering of her feet, Jade had to pull out at 25 miles, reaching Linton Zoo, but she went ahead to greet George and Will on their arrival at the hospital after a gruelling 11 hours of walking.
"I had to stop because I physically couldn't walk any further, but the boys finished it and I'm so proud of them as the end was pretty tough," said Jade.
"I did 25 miles, but about eight miles before that I was already struggling, so I went as far as I could physically go. My feet were covered in blisters and by the end I couldn't even put my foot in my shoe any more.
"But, for my own wellbeing, I'm going to finish my additional miles next weekend so that I still do the full mileage. I desperately want to finish it and the challenge can be completed throughout the month."
Jade's uncle, John Bolton, died last April in his mid-60s with Huntington's disease (HD). Others in her family have been diagnosed with the genetic condition, and although Jade does not have the HD gene herself, she has been involved in medical trials and fundraising over the past 10 years to raise awareness of the illness.
May is #HDhike month, a fund-raising initiative by the Huntington Disease Association to continue research into helping those affected by the illness.
"I wanted to mark the year anniversary of when my uncle passed away and noticed the #HDHike challenge was happening in May and thought it was the perfect opportunity to commemorate him," said Jade.
"It's important for us to undertake this walk not just to raise money for a great cause but also awareness of the disease. HD is life-changing and many people don’t realise it's in their family, with 32,000 estimated at high risk of inheriting the disease.”
HD is caused by a faulty gene which affects the body's nervous system in the brain and spinal cord. It gradually progresses and can cause changes with movement, learning, thinking and emotions. There is no cure.
Jade's family and friends met them along the route, including George's sister Clem, 21, who walked part of the way with them. They went via Saffron Walden, Audley End, along the Harcamlow Way and then on to Hadstock and into Cambridge.