Disability charity founder, John Willis, completes his biggest ever challenge – a 108 miles long River Thames paddle challenge. 108 miles, 5 counties, a whole host of amazing volunteers and 1 mission – to raise vital funds for his charity. With support from British Canoeing and months in the planning, Power2Inspire Founder, John Willis, recently embarked on an epic 108-mile paddle, across 8 days.
John, born without fully formed arms and legs, paddled through the stunning settings of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxford with the help of an adapted paddle, a well-planned route from British Canoeing and a whole host of volunteers. From World Champion rowers, to complete novices, our fantastic volunteers joined John in his kayak for various stints of the journey, each one of them raising funds for the charity.
John’s challenge formed part of the charity’s wider ‘108 Challenge’ campaign, where they asked schools, businesses and the community to take part in a 108 Challenge of their own to help raise funds for our charity. From baking 108 cakes, swimming 108 lengths or running for 108 minutes – the inclusive campaign encouraged the community to get involved in any way possible to raise vital funds for the charity.
John Willis, Founder and Chief Ambassador, said:
“When I was a child my mother used to inspire me by telling me ‘I can do anything’. I’ve adapted this and my mantra has become ‘I can’t do it… yet’. This is something that has always driven me to take on challenges some may feel are impossible. I didn’t have role models when I was young, so I’m keen to make sure that I inspire others to believe anything is possible.
“I’d like to thank British Canoeing for their support and our wonderful volunteers who helped me on the journey and kept my spirits high until the very end.
“I was joined by some wonderful people, including flotillas from various canoe and paddling clubs across the route – their support was immeasurable.
“I can’t say it was an easy challenge – far from it. There were sections where I wasn’t sure I could physically continue – but with our wonderful volunteers boosting my morale – I made it, and I’m extremely proud.
“Not only are we aiming to raise vital funds to ensure we can continue to deliver inclusive and accessible sports events across the country, we’re also hoping to raise awareness of inclusion in sport.
“I set up Power2Inspire 10 years ago because when I was a child I was excluded from sport, I’ve made it my mission ever since to ensure no-one no matter their ability, age, ethnicity, gender or race is left on the bench like I was.
“Your donations will help us to continue inspiring people across the country to access inclusive sport.”
There is still plenty of time to help us reach our fundraising target by donating to John’s challenge. Or if you’re feeling inspired, take part in your own 108 Challenge!