One Big Year continues....
19 September 2012
Kicking off Meningitis Awareness Week with a bang on Sunday 16 September was 28-year old, Mike Needham, who completed Ironman Wales to take his tally of endurance events to a whopping NINE in as many months.
At 7.00am on a chilly beach in Tenby, South Wales, Mike flung himself into the sea along with 1499 other hopefuls to compete one of the world’s toughest challenges – Ironman. Over the course of 15 hours, he swam nearly three miles in the notoriously strong sea off the Welsh coast, before running to his bike to begin a gruelling 112-mile cycle ride across the hilly Welsh terrain. To complete the world-renowned triathlon, he then hopped off his bike and proceeded to run a marathon – 26.2 miles – before crossing the line at 10.20pm to the sound of cheering crowds.
In January 2012, Mike embarked on an astonishing independent fundraising project – One Big Year – to raise money for Meningitis Research Foundation. Mike contracted the deadly disease as a toddler, and is deaf as a result of the illness. He is totally deaf in one ear, and profoundly deaf in the other, for which he wears a hearing aid.
Unbelievably, Mike also had to learn to walk again and endured years of difficulties with his hearing and challenges related to it – from troubles with speech, to classroom bullying.
One Big Year has seen Mike face one huge endurance challenge every single month; since January he has completed the Edinburgh Marathon, the Three Peaks Challenge, Tough Guy and a 102-mile Ultramarathon to name a few.
The final three months of his inspirational project will see him face an English Channel Pool Swim, and two World Record Attempts!
Mike comments: “As I was growing up, my deafness was seen as a disability. I have always fought against that perception. Meningitis could have taken my life, I realise how lucky I am to be here – had it been spotted any later I would almost certainly have been left severely brain-damaged, or worse.
“I have chosen to spend my year making a difference, and generating as much awareness as possible about this disease. It can strike at any time, and affect any person of any age or fitness level. It is essential that people are well informed about the warning signs, and anything I can do to help raise funds for Meningitis Research Foundation is something I am absolutely proud to do.”
Chris Head, Chief Executive at Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), said: “We rely on voluntary donations to fund our vital work into the prevention, detection and treatment of meningitis and septicaemia, so every penny raised during Mike’s ‘One Big Year’ will make a huge difference to the charity. We are extremely grateful to Mike for taking on this mammoth challenge on our behalf and wish him luck as he enters the final quarter of 2012.”