A father-of-three who is fighting Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is defying the illness by challenging himself to complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks to raise money for LOROS.
David Needham, 46, who is a full-time wheelchair user, will be pushing himself to the limits as he takes on the highest three peaks in the Yorkshire Dales, this August in a specially adapted Mountain Trike.
The challenge comes three years after David was officially diagnosed with MND, a condition that invariably damages the nervous system and often leads to muscle weakness.
“The way I looked at it when I was diagnosed was, I have two choices, I can either give up or carry on and I never had any intention of giving up,” said David, of Cold Newton, in the Harborough district.
“I wanted to take on a challenge, while helping others who are in a similar position to me.
“Training for this has done me the world of good, both physically and mentally.
“Hopefully this will be the first of many challenges to come.”
David, who has three young children, ages three, five and six, first noticed there was something wrong when he attempted to jog across a zebra crossing and found his body would not let him.
Around eight months later, he said his left foot started to drop and that is when he made the decision to go to the doctor.
After doctors confirmed he had MND, David said he lost a huge part of his independence and heavily relied on his wife Kate.
Despite having a huge passion for sport, David had given up all sports several years before being diagnosed with MND, due to injury, injuries that he says in hindsight were probably signs of him having the illness.
“I’ve always been sports mad, I love the element of competition,” said David, who attends both the MND Clinic at LOROS and has complementary therapy at the Hospice.
“Last year, I was finding it really hard to breathe and at times I was gasping for air. That was a kick up the bum for me, it flicked a mental switch in my head; I didn’t like the idea of not being around.
“I decided to alter my diet and started going to the gym.
“I decided that MND was not going to dictate me, I was going to dictate it.”
David’s change in lifestyle saw him join the Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Club and purchase a Mountain Trike.
“Exercising and having a Mountain Trike has giving me back things that I lost and I assumed I would never get back, like my freedom.”
After giving up work but having re-introduced exercise into his life, David decided to set himself the challenge of completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks this August.
He will be climbing the Peaks alongside a number of other fundraisers, who will all be on foot, while he will be in his Mountain Trike.
“I’m really looking forward the challenge; once I’ve set my mind to something, I will go ahead and do it,” he added.
“It’s also giving me something to focus on and I strongly believe it’s had an impact on me fighting the disease itself.”
He now goes to the gym two to three times a week and trains for the climb frequently but most importantly, is once again able to go out to places like Bradgate Park with his children.
David will be raising fund for both LOROS and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, of which both organisations have supported him since he was diagnosed.
To sponsor David, who is hoping to raise £10,000 from his climb, visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/Ned70