Wigan to Disney trek surpassed in memory of Mark and to raise awareness of aortic aneurysms
A grieving Wigan widow who came up with a unique project to remember her “Disney-mad” husband has been overwhelmed by its success.
Natalie Leigh lost her 32-year-old partner Mark to an aortic aneurysm suddenly at home in September, just five days after he went to hospital with chest pains.
She wanted as many people as possible to get involved in Mark’s month of moving across January to help raise awareness for the condition and the importance of bilateral blood pressure.
Originally, the plan was to collect enough miles to get to Disney World in Florida.
However, that was surpassed and the aim was to continue across America to Disney Land, California.
The fitness feat came to an end with a 5km walk around the DW Stadium on what would have been Mark’s 33rd birthday.
The group were also joined by Wigan Warriors head coach Matty Peet.
Natalie, who is from Pemberton said: “I have to hold my hands up, I questioned the group at times.
“I doubted that we would get there. Then they all proved me wrong and we reached Florida around day 18! It’s 4,208 miles Wigan to Florida, it was an incredible achievement.
“I was proud. Then I wondered, where to next, my maths brain kicked in, I got my calculator out and worked out that going at the same rate we could get near to California, around 200 miles short but that would be amazing.
“Wigan to Florida to California would have been 6,796 miles. That’s impressive and I thought OK let’s see if we can do it!
“Well, the power of teamwork came through. We travelled a total 8,696 miles!
“That is equal to Wigan to Disney World Florida to Wigan then nearly ending up in Disneyland Paris.
“It’s 4,208 miles from Wigan to Florida, 4,208 miles Florida to Wigan. It’s 389 miles Wigan to Paris so we are 109 miles short of Paris but it is still amazing.”
When diagnosed and treated on time aortic aneurysm has a better than 80 per cent survival rate.
However, 33 per cent of people are misdiagnosed, meaning 10 lives could be saved each week if patients were diagnosed correctly.
They are often diagnosed by bilateral blood pressure, however this simple test is only done on people over the age of 65,
To celebrate her incredible achievement, Natalie is now going to continue the mission to Paris.
She added: “The last holiday we went on was the Disney cruise around the UK.
“For Mark, Disney was home, Disney was magic, Walt made him Peter Pan. He admired the engineering that went into creating the stories and films that never age.
“His heart filled when he saw the faces on the children and adults that bought into the magic. He loved the fact that is started with a mouse, something so small became so big, change lives, created dreams and opened imaginations all around the world.
“So our next holiday Mark booked before he passed away. He booked for us to go to Paris, he knew I wanted to see those glass pyramids and also wanted to see Mickey!
So, Easter I will do just that. As he planned. I and we will get to Paris.”
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