MS-UK fundraiser of the month Michelle Felton

September’s fundraiser of the month – Michelle Felton

In our thriving MS-UK community, everyone’s path tells a unique story of resilience and unwavering support for those living with multiple sclerosis (MS). This month, we are excited to introduce you to Michelle, a true inspiration who has navigated the challenges of MS for 24 years with an unbreakable spirit.

‘Hi, my name is Michelle and I have had MS for 24 years. I am 64 years old. MS does not have me, I have it!’

‘I was talked into doing a zip wire, at Hangloose, Bluewater last year, and enjoyed it so much that when I finished it, I said, ‘so next is a skydive.’ This blog is about getting to the skydive.

‘I worked at a hospice when I thought about fundraising by doing a skydive. The question was who did I want to raise money for, the hospice where I worked or MS-UK? Both the hospice and MS-UK had competitive fundraising targets to complete the skydive, but I live with MS and it doesn’t get half of the advertising or funding that cancer charities do. I made my decision, after debating inwardly, who should get any and I chose MS-UK.’

‘I contacted MS-UK, who were delighted that I was helping them to raise money for the much-needed services they provide that support the daily living of many people living with MS. They sent me all sorts of bits and pieces to help with my fundraising and my daughter helped me set up a Just Giving page.

‘While trying to strengthen my legs and improve my balance, I fell off a balance board and broke my wrist. My skydive was postponed as my wrist took over eight weeks to heal. Once healed, I completed a different zip wire challenge, this time in Cornwall and was sure a skydive would be good for me and MS-UK.

‘On the day of the skydive, my husband Paul, my daughter Emma, and my best friend Kim, came to support me. Once there, my daughter’s friend Leanne, her little boy Freddie, and Leanne’s mum Chris, arrived to support me too.

‘The people looking after me, who are part of the UK parachuting team, and were going to get me up in the plane and get me back down to earth safely, were superb. They are such experienced, caring, and fun people to be with. They were supportive and encouraging and when the plane door opened and the time came to dive, I felt excited and very safe in their hands. A mile of free falling and a mile with the opened parachute, un-be-lievable! Coming into land, my worst fear was thinking I would not be able to lift my legs, but it just happened, and I was on my butt and waving to my family. I’d jumped, well, more precisely slid, out of a plane, thousands of feet up and I’d done it. It was surreal but I’d really done it. Wow! I could not take the smug look off my face and just kept smiling and smiling for days and days.

‘Fundraising was not easy, due to the current cost of living, but I used Facebook for my Just Giving page and many of my friends shared it. Both my son and daughter also shared my page and asked their friends to sponsor me. My family were very generous with their sponsorship, I think because they are my family, because they are very proud of me and how I just get on with life irrespective of having MS.

‘As I got closer to the skydive, I pushed my Just Giving page a bit more and kept bothering people to sponsor me. The result, through the generosity of my friends, friends of friends and family, I raised £1,155 in sponsorship and £211.26 in gift aid, a remarkable total of £1,366.26 for MS-UK, especially considering I thought I might be lucky to raise £100. I hope the money helps others who live with MS.

‘The support MS-UK gave to me while I prepared for the skydive was excellent, especially from Sadé, and I would honestly encourage others who want to raise money for MS to join one of the events run by MS-UK to raise much-needed funding to increase awareness and to support those living with MS and towards further research.

‘I don’t really know what to expect when I wake up each day. Blurred vision, legs better or worse than yesterday, a headache that might respond to paracetamol but might not, how fed up or frustrated I might feel. It’s all a mystery until I open my eyes and get up although how things are when I get up might change throughout the day and get better or worse.

‘But I will not be beaten, I have MS, it does not have me and as long as I do my best every day, whatever that best is, it is my best. On 25 August, my best was to raise money for MS-UK and live life to the fullest. On that day, it happened to be that I completed a skydive.’

If you have been inspired by Michelle and would like to take on a skydive for MS-UK, please contact the fundraising team today to find out more! You can also support Michelle’s fundraising efforts by visiting her JustGiving page.