A six-year-old girl with a life-limiting muscle-wasting disease has completed a gruelling walking challenge while dressed as Wonder Woman.
Carmela Chillery-Watson has LMNA congenital muscular dystrophy, and is unlikely to live beyond her 20th birthday.
The disease affects her muscles and means she cannot walk continuously for more than five minutes at a time or for 60 seconds on inclines.
Throughout September Carmela has – despite the enormous physical strain it puts on her body – walked 300km on specially-designed crutches.
She dressed up as her favourite superhero Wonder Woman throughout the challenge, while still attending school, physio sessions and hospital appointments.
Carmela, from Devizes, Wiltshire, has so far raised over £12,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK to help others like her.
The girl and her mother, Lucy, finished in Easterton after crossing Salisbury Plain, and were surprised by Batman at the end.
Carmela said: “Walking was the hardest part but I loved the beach walks and getting cheered along was awesome.
“Thank you to everyone helping me hope to walk for longer and finding a cure for my horrible disease.”
Mrs Chillery-Watson said: “In the beginning the adrenaline was keeping us from feeling tired and sore.
“But just a week in, Carmela’s spine curvatures started causing her dizziness and nausea. Both the walking and long periods of sitting in a wheelchair over an uneven terrain caused misalignments.
“At one point we thought we might have to stop for a few days to give her spine a rest. When her body is exhausted her face goes pale, her lips turn blue and her movement gets poorer.
“I have to be very careful Carmela doesn’t get to this stage as her muscles can’t repair themselves if she overdoes it.
“But in Carmela’s world she is indestructible, and if she had a choice she would keep going until she fell.
“Carmela never complains about her pains and has always been committed to completing the challenge no matter what her body goes through.
“The challenge was harder than I expected and the toughest part was fitting it around Carmela’s everyday needs of rest, physio, school, hospital review appointments, the logistics of travelling to and from each location, charging her powerchair, sharing her story on social media, as well as household chores – so bedtime was midnight for me.”
Carmela now has a month of catching up with physio exercises which help prevent dizziness and sickness.
She also will resume core stability exercises that help keep her spine in a good position and stop her from falling.
These exercises also help keep her joints mobile and stretched to reduce the severity of joint contractures.
Catherine Woodhead, chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy, said: “They deserve a huge well done as this has been physically and emotionally gruelling for both Carmela – whose muscles get weaker every single day – and her mum Lucy.
“It’s worth remembering that Carmela is just six years old – this really is an amazing feat for such a gutsy little girl who will eventually lose the ability to walk and need to use a wheelchair permanently.”
– Carmela’s fundraising page can be found at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/carmela-chillery-watson10