‘I wanted to do something different to fundraise’

Karen Turner shares how MS-UK made her fundraising dream a reality and her MS journey

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in July 1992, although I later found out that my medical records suspected and spoke of MS as early as 1984. I, like many of people, spent years with bouts of clumsiness which went unexplained and pins and needles that turned out to be poor circulation. After the second experience of optic neuritis, I insisted I wanted someone to investigate.

In November 1991, I had an MRI, but a follow up appointment in January was cancelled along with appointments in March and June, so I wrongly assumed, ‘well there’s nothing to worry about then’. How wrong was I. Finally, in July 1992 I saw my neurologist.

I remember going in on my own as I thought, there’s nothing wrong here. The neurologist was led through the door, and I hadn’t even sat down when he said, ‘There’s no easy way to tell you this, you have MS. Do you know what this is?’. I spent five years in denial as I looked ‘normal’. Fast forward to 2002, I’d been married to my job because it was a way of coping and a way that I could prove I was in control. Crutches were needed at this point and my marriage ended. My job was too difficult, so I took the medically retired option, moved home with mum and dad with my 19-month-old Springer Spaniel, Jerry. I was 36 with no home, no job, and no partner.

Now, 20 years on, I am happily settled with my partner Mark and our two rescue dogs. To mark the 30-year anniversary of my MS diagnosis, I wanted to do something different to fundraise this time. An outdoor skydive sounded a good idea! I’d always been an adrenaline junkie and it had always been on my bucket list. I ran it past MS-UK and Community Fundraiser, Sadé, tried to set it up. Sadly, my mobility let me down and for health and safety reasons, I couldn’t jump. So, Sadé tried the iFLY indoor skydiving centre and as they say, the rest is history! I was excited it we booked a date for Saturday 25 June 2022.

I had five weeks to fundraise. I set the target to raise £500 and opened a JustGiving page with the help from Sadé. I posted on Facebook a month before the dive, and I posted weekly to refresh people’s memory with gentle reminders to please share with their friends with the hope they might know me.

It was working, and I’d exceeded the target after my good friends and family had donated but I hadn’t exhausted Facebook, messenger, or WhatsApp yet, that would wait until the very last week. I contacted my local newspaper who are running a story to encourage people to continue to donate to the £1,551 raised so far.

Finally, if you don’t think you can do it or do a skydive from a plane, the iFLY team are brilliant. My right side doesn’t work (arms and legs) but they made it happen! It was fantastic I was on a high until Tuesday and still get excited talking about it. If you have thought about it, have a go!