All of my cousins are an inspiration to me!
My cousin Leah Sommerfield has been travelling the world for almost a year now. She has had many adventures and stories that have filled more than a carry-on bag could handle. However, today I want to talk about her next and final adventure. She is going to be walking 1000 km across Spain, with her boyfriend, to raise funds and awareness for Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA).
Now you may be thinking why is she doing this. Well, two of my cousins, Chelsey and Brittany Sommerfield have FA. It is a degenerative neuro-muscular disorder that has no current cure. It has slowly taken away their motor abilities, such as writing, grabbing, and walking. They are 22 and 19, respectively, and both require a wheelchair and/or walker to get around.
When they were little though they could run and jump and play like anyone their age. It was the years approaching them being 16 and 13 that they noticed the changes. They were then diagnosed with the disease.
I wrote a personality profile on my cousin Chelsey for Journalism last semester.
When the assignment came it was hard. Listening to my cousin talk about some of her difficulties in an intimate and serious nature was different. I am used to a happy laughing Chels who, when she falls, laughs it off and gets back up. I didn’t realize the true strength that she and Britt both have until this assignment.
The Sommerfield family has been living with the constant adaptation to FA, and so I am used to hearing about falls that they take. The most recent was Britt falling and breaking her nose. (She is fine now and beautiful as ever no worries).
We all have made it our second job to help raise awareness of the disease that effects only one in 50,000 people. My cousins are two of three Manitobans that have been diagnosed.
I always wear a baby blue band around my wrist with the imprint “Fight Friedreich’s Ataxia”, so when people ask what that is for I have the chance to explain to them what it is like living with and being a family member to someone who has FA.
Chelsey and Brittany both have a tattoo on their ankles saying, “Not only for me… but for her.”
Not only for me… But for her. (photo credited to Brittany Sommerfield’s Facebook).
And I think this is the motivation behind the Sommerfield family. I am a proud cousin to all of my relatives. They are an inspiration to me. So I wanted to take this space in my blog to share Chelsey and Brittany’s story, and also share my cousin Leah’s effort in spreading the awareness 7067.60 km further than we could ever imagine.
So please, not only for me… but for them, if you would like to learn more about their stories and go the extra mile and donate to the cause click HERE!
(All of the proceeds raised will go to The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) to help find a cure).