At a recent networking event the ELLESPORT Marketing manager was lucky enough to meet the amazing Rachael Ritchie and got talking sports, charities and everything fitness. As it turns out Rachael was looking for someone to sponsor her latest fitness challenge and after hearing her emotional story we just couldn’t say no. So without further delay, over to Rachael to tell us all about her challenge and why she has chosen to raise money for Polymicrogyria Family Support.

Rachael Ritchie

“18 months ago, I really was a couch potato and a bit of a 'party girl' (still am!) but I decided that after losing 2 stone, I wanted to lose more and also tone up so I took the plunge and joined a local gym on their 12-week personal training program - I was successful! I lost another stone and have toned up (6 pack emerging - well almost)! I've lost 2 more dress sizes (bottom half only as I have been blessed with an ample bosom and only lost 1 size from this)

So 3 years ago, I was a size 20 - I'm now a size 14 (top 16). I have broken my challenges down in to 'bite size' chunks.

First step was to join a gym (and enjoy it not just pay the membership) - I use Fitness Republic in Ashby de la Zouch, who have been awesome and an integral part of my journey, the owner who is my PT supports me constantly and no longer is it a chore!

If you'd have told me 6 months after joining, I'd be running my first X-Run, over obstacles, through mud, swimming across a lake - I'd have told you that was insane but no, last April I took part in my first run - raising money for Teenage Cancer Trust and also Diabetes UK

My next challenge is my boxing match - I wanted to do something different, I'm a 'shock factor' kinda gal and this to me pushes the boundaries physically and mentally and has left friends and family a little speechless (well apart from 'are you mad'). I signed up to Pink Collar Boxing for their Leicester charity match in April! Partly because it's different but I also wanted to raise money for another charity and for them to benefit from my temporary lunacy! I chose to raise money for Polymicrogyria Family Support as I have friends whose little boy was diagnosed with this rare and dreadful illness.

Why? I wanted to raise money for a charity linked with someone who I know would benefit from the good work they do, I asked friends if they minded me highlighting their little boys fight with PMG. Here's my friends story:

Laurence

"In June 2014 our beautiful son and much loved little brother came into our lives. At 15 weeks old, Laurence began to seizure and was rushed to hospital. After bloods, CT scans, EEG and MRI under general anaesthetic, Laurence was diagnosed with Polymicrogyria and epilepsy.

This two-week journey ended with sympathetic neurologist handing us sheets of paper which spelt out that everything you take for granted that your child will do are no longer certain.

Above all, the line 'May make it into adulthood' was delivered.

That day, we began to grieve the loss of a future for our son, we hadn't even perceived. It stole our breath, our joy and the earth beneath our feet. Life changed forever. With the acceptance comes the underlying stress that still remains as epilepsy could steal pieces of our son one at a time.

Laurence

Polymicrogyria (PMG) is a brain abnormality that means many small bumps, it causes epilepsy which can be difficult to control and this becomes increasingly so as a child gets older. It can affect all aspects of a child's development including speech, feeding, intellect and fine and large motor skills, that we all take as granted. Children with brain abnormalities are so more susceptible to chest infections. A recent 'normal' childhood viral temperature resulted in a 20-minute seizure for Laurence, a simple virus in December resulted in a hospital stay due to breathing difficulties.

Laurence is now 20 months old, he is globally developmentally delayed. He doesn't walk or crawl, but he does a neat bum shuffle.

Laurence is never seizure free and like most children with PMG he has had other complications including, bilateral cataracts which resulted in the loss of his sight within each 5 weeks last year and consequently undergoing operations to restore this.

Meeting other families who have been affected by PMG has helped us to accept, understand and embrace our future. When we are feeling challenged, our PMG family is there to shades their experiences and give support and advice. We gain hope from sharing in the achievements of our PMG stats and share our pain in the challengers the condition throws at us

Rebecca and Rob

Laurence's mummy and daddy”

I am committed to raising money for this fantastic charity and spreading the word, and am totally delighted and honoured to be sponsored by ELLESPORT.”

If you would like to donate, please go to Rachaels fundraising page www.givey.com/rachaelsfightnight

Or to follow her journey please follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Rachaelsfightnight/ or twitter: @QdosRachael