A GROUP of self-proclaimed misfits and vagabonds passed through the borough this weekend on a 100km (62 miles) “ultra challenge” — all for a cause close to their hearts.
Anthony Mackey and his friends walked from Fulham to Henley along the Thames Path to raise awareness for a condition that affects one in every 2,500.
Téo, Anthony’s son, was diagnosed with Sagittal Craniosynostosis in June. It happens when the plates in a baby’s head fuse too early, and Téo must now undergo major surgery to reconstruct his skull.
To raise awareness of Téo’s diagnosis, and to fundraise for charities that support families affected by Sagittal Craniosynostosis, the group of nine walked the 100km distance in 24 hours.
And they have raised more than £6,500 of their £10,000 goal.
“We struggled to come to terms with (Téo’s diagnosis),” Anthony said.
“We felt so many emotions, one of the utmost being helplessness.”
“I was looking for a way to get some control back,” he added. “I took Téo on a lot of walks to help him sleep, and I decided a charity walk would be a great way to feel like I was doing something good.”
Anthony and his friends had two months’ worth of training for the big event.
“It’s not a lot of training. But everyone has been fantastic, giving up weekends to do 60km (37 mile) training walks,” he said.
And they’ve received a lot of support.
“Overall, we’ve just been blown away, not just in terms of the money raised but we got so many messages from people asking if we are okay,” Anthony added.
Anthony and his wife Marianné initially set a target of £5,000, but after raising that in only two weeks, they decided to double it.
Some of the money raised will be donated to Headlines, a charity which Anthony describes as “small but amazing”.
They are currently supporting the family by teaching them about Téo’s condition.
And the rest of the funds will be split between two other organisations.
Some will go to Ronald McDonald House, who provide housing for families next to the hospital, and some to Cranio Ribbons, an unregistered charity who send children personalised teddy bears and care packages when they are in hospital.
Speaking ahead of the walk, Anthony said: “It’s very real now, I’m keen to get it done because we’ve done the training, but I’m still a bit nervous.
“All in all, this has been a coping mechanism for me and I’m so grateful to my family and friends who have given up hours on end for this.
“As for Téo, he is the happiest child you’ll ever meet, and it’s just fantastic coming home to him,” he added.
For more information, or to donate, visit: gf.me/u/ygdz36