In early July, supporters Maura Ward and son Johnny (pictured above) along with a team of 19 others took on the incredible challenge of climbing Mount Fuji in Japan as both a celebration of Maura’s 70th Birthday and to raise awareness and funds for The Cure Parkinson's Trust's (CPT) research into a cure for Parkinson’s. Here is Maura’s inspiring story...

“Climbing Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain at 3,776 metres, has to have been the most difficult task I have ever undertaken. Physically I had nothing left to give, another 10 metres and I probably would not have got to the top. As it happens, I did need help to get down because after the first few hundred metres, my legs just wouldn’t work, and my blood oxygen levels had dropped.  

Strangely, at no time on the climb did I even consider giving up, it simply wasn’t an option. Prior to coming to Japan, friends kept telling me not to overdo it, that all the donors would understand and accept my being unable to finish, to just do my best. Huh, as if!!! For me, not reaching the summit was not an option, it was do or die in the attempt. And that was the scary bit! Scary because last November, in Bolivia, I experienced altitude sickness, and the thought of a repetition of that was too awful to contemplate, but I kept telling myself that it wasn’t compulsory, and that medication would keep it at bay.

My main reason for not failing was people’s faith in me. People whom I know could ill afford to, gave me donations, and I felt I would be letting all these supporters, but those people in particular down. And mostly, for ever I would be asking myself, could I have tried harder? So failure wasn’t an option. 

The climbing group, mostly strangers before this but dear friends now, got me through it. Their personal determination meant mine couldn’t be seen to waver. My family’s unwavering support in the face of total incomprehension (my brother thinks I’m crazy!) was without equal, and my children were with me every step - my poor daughter had to sit at home worrying, easily the worst option. (How the tables have turned!).

My son was with me physically. This was his baby from day one, I had wanted to do a wing walk to celebrate my birthday, but my son was having none of it. He insisted there is no challenge to just standing on a plane, that anyone could do that! Hence the idea of Mount Fuji.  

I still haven’t entirely come to terms with the enormity of the whole experience, but in time I will, and maybe even be a better person as a result. Until then, if it shows even one person that a Parkinson’s diagnosis doesn’t mean the end of everything, it’s been worth it. Together we have raised over £13,500 for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust to put towards research, research which will hopefully eventually lead to total eradication of this horrible condition."

Fantastic photo of Maura and Johnny at the top of Mount Fuji

CPT would like to say a huge thank you and congratulations to Maura, Johnny and the rest of the team for their truly incredible fundraising efforts and support. If you'd like to read more of Maura’s story or you would like to support her fundraising please visit her fundraising page.

If you feel inspired by Maura and would like to take on a trekking challenge in support of CPT take a look at the brilliant hikes we have on offer here or contact Julia to discuss your ideas.