A 300-strong crowd of people followed in the footsteps of a seven year old Whitby schoolgirl, who walked the furthest she has ever done in her life, to raise awareness of her own disability and help fund a cure.
Despite having a seizure just 15 minutes before her epic challenge, Emlyn Coates who has the genetic disorder Rett Syndrome, led the emotional mile long journey from her home in Hawsker to the Hare and Hounds pub last Sunday.
Holding hands with her proud mum Kori and dad Darren, the East Whitby pupil, who often uses a wheelchair, took just 50 minutes with a five minute rest to complete the feat.
During training she had only been able to complete half the walk, taking almost twice as long.
What made it particularly challenging is that Emlyn finds walking difficult and next year, will undergo an operation which will see her having both her hips and femurs broken to treat hip displacement.
The Walk a Mile in My Shoes event which culminated in a family fun day at the pub which made £5,570 for Cure Rett, a charity co-founded by her mum.
It helps families of those suffering from the condition, which affects around one in 12,000 girls, and is also funding vital research to find a cure.
Mum of four Kori said: “I’m proud of Emlyn every day. She overcomes enormous obstacles with the most tenacious spirit and beautiful smile.
“We call her Emlyn the extraordinary. Fifteen minutes before we set off on the walk she had a seizure and I really didn’t think it was going to happen
“The thing that made me the most proud of her was she did the walk with a smile the whole way. She was very aware of the support. I think it’s the supoprt from all of the people that believed in her that kept her walking.
“Quite literally they had her back. That level of support and encouragement for her was by far the best part of the day for me.
“It was so incredible it broke my heart with happiness.”
Walkers, many wearing pink and blue - the charity’s official colours- ranged from tots to pensioners as well as other children with Rett syndrome who had travelled with their parents from all over the country to take part, along with members of Whitby’s fire crew who turned up in their fire engine.
Emlyn’s efforts bring the total raised by Whitby and district for the charity over the past few months to more than £15,000.
The final fund-raiser will see 50 people from Whitby and district named ‘Team Whitby’ compete in The Virgin Active London Triathalon on July 27 for the charity.
Kori added: “For Darren being a local and seeing the community that he’s been raised in come out and support us in that way was just magnificent but for me, although I was not born in Whitby, I couldn’t have felt more like a local on the day.
“We always try to tell people individually but on this occassion we would like to say to everyone who has been involved in the fantastic fundraising and awareness raising over the past few months that we are truly humbled with gratitude.”
Visit www.whitbygazette.co.uk to see a video from the walk and turn to page 35 for more pictures.