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Penny’s Fund was established in 2010 by friends and family of Penny Wheeler of Belper to raise the funds needed to provide Penny with vital medical equipment.
She had been diagnosed three years previously with two rare and complicated illnesses; Systemic Scleroderma and Pulmonary Fibrosis and was pretty much housebound due to the chronic fatigue and breathlessness assosciated with these conditions. In order to buy her a little more freedom we rallied round and organised a sponsored walk which raised more than enough to purchase a Portable Oxygen Concentrator. This handy little machine meant Penny could leave the house without having to rely on heavy oxygen bottles. She was able to attend a family wedding, visit specialist clinics in London and even managed a holiday with her husband Nick in their beloved Cyprus. Shortly afterwards Nick discovered a new drug that was being trialled on Scleroderma patients, due to the tiny number of patients with these conditions it was unknown how successful the treatment would be. Without hesitation Penny and Nick registered their interest with their consultant and were told they could give the drug, Rituximab, a go but unfortunately it couldn’t be provided through the NHS.At a cost of £26,000 for a years treatment we quickly realised we needed more fundrasising; a Vegas night, more one day music festivals, coast to coast walks, an auction evening, a Northern Soul night, a sponsored trek across Spain and many, many more events followed and the first years treatment was paid for. In order to receive another years treatment we knew we needed something bigger and better than anything we had done before – which is when the Belper Games were born! Twenty teams of ten people battling it out on an Its A Knockout style course throughout the day, with local craft and artisans selling their wares on our street style market, hot food stalls, fairground attractions and much, much more. The event was an unprecedented success and brought thousands of people to Belper to take part.
In early preparation for The Belper Games 2013 we teamed up with a local couple Kerry and Jim Bull,they too had been doing fundraising for a rare illness; Kerry was diagnosed with Fredireichs Ataxia aged 17 and they have devoted their adult lives to raising awareness and much needed funds for thsi progressive and incurable illness. Not to mention bringing up their two beautiful daughters Shannon and Connie. You can find out more about Ataxia in the 'Charities' section.
Sadly, Pennys health rapidly worsened throughout 2012. She made the decision not to go through with the last infusion of Rituximab as it was proving too traumatic an event for her and instead donate the money raised to The Scleroderma Society and The Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust.
Penny passed away peacefully on December 17th 2012, at home, surrounded by her family. As were her wishes.
She was not a victim, she was a survivor, a fighter and an inspiration and we do this for her.