For the last ten days Maisie Catt has walked 2.6 miles a day either around her garden or a on a treadmill.
But what makes the ten year old’s fund-raising challenge extra special is that when she was a baby she had both her legs amputated after contracting meningitis.
She wears special blades and although she is extremely sporty, walking is still one of the hardest things she finds to do.
So when the London Marathon was cancelled and the 2.6 challenge issued, Maisie from Mirfield, decided she wanted to raise £260 for LimbPower – a charity that has helped and supported her over the years.
“I suggested she walk 2.6 miles but Maisie didn’t think that was far enough,” says her mum Sharon.
“She asked how long the marathon was and said she wanted to walk 26 miles over ten days – 2.6 miles a day. I was a bit concerned that was a lot for her but she is very determined.”
Maisie completed her challenge yesterday raising more than £9,000.
“We’d been watching Captain Tom Moore and we tagged him in one of Maisie’s posts on Twitter which he retweeted and then it went mad,” says Sharon.
For Maisie it is the latest in a series of challenges she has faced since contracting meningitis when she was a baby. She trains with Team GB para squad in Taekwondo, is a keen swimmer and hopes to compete in the para Olympics one day and would also like to be an actress.
“From being very small she has always been determined that nothing would stand in her way and she hasn’t let it.”
Sharon and husband Jonathan suspected something was wrong with Maisie one morning.
“She normally woke me up everyday wanting a feed, but this particular day she didn’t and when I went into her she was really sleepy,” recalls Sharon.
“The health visitor didn’t seem concerned and just said to give her a feed which I did.” But by the afternoon Maisie’s condition had deteriorated and her skin had become mottled.
“I rang the doctor and my husband who was working close by and we rushed her to A&E in Dewsbury. I can hardly remember the journey it was so horrific I think I have tried to block it out.”
A nurse was waiting for them and ran straight into A&E with Maisie. She was transferred to the Leeds General Infirmary where she spent 11 days in intensive care fighting for life.
“We kept asking if they thought she would pull through but they just wouldn’t answer the questions they just kept saying she was a very poorly baby.”
Then Maisie’s toes started to go black.
“We were devastated as it meant she would lose her toes and I didn’t want her to lose her toes. But in the end all that mattered was that she was alive.”
The meningitis bug had also caused septicaemia which was poisoning Maisie’s blood. In the end she had to have both legs amputated to save her life.
She spent a total of six weeks in hospital.
“Before we could take her home we had to prove that we were okay to look after her,” explains Sharon.
“I remember they gave us a borrowed buggy and said we could take her for a walk into Leeds city centre. I only had my flip flops as that was what I was wearing when we rushed her to hospital.
“I had to walk around Leeds in February in my flip flops but I remember us being the proudest parents in the world.”
When she would have started to walk Maisie had prosthetics fitted and used a walking frame.
“She has always taken it in her stride. From a young age we started the routine that she would get up, get dressed and put her legs on and so it became second nature.”
She then learnt to walk with crutches and stick until just before her ninth birthday she was fitted with blades.
“We were a bit worried as with the prosthetic legs she could wear tights and few people realised she’d had the amputations but with the blades it was suddenly obvious to everyone,” says her mum.
“But it was interesting to see how people reacted. When she had the walking sticks people would feel sorry for her and ask what had happened, with the blades everything was suddenly really positive and people keep asking how fast she could run with them. I think the para Olympics really helped as lot of the athletes had blades.”
Taking part in the para Olympics is Maisie’s ambition. In September 2017, thanks to the charity LimbPower, she got the chance to try out a number of sports.
LimbPower offers help and support to families and individuals with amputation and limb difference by aiding rehabilitation and improving the quality of life through recreational and competitive sports and arts.
“I’m motivated to help LimbPower because they’ve helped me loads so I wanted to help them, it’s been hard and I keep focused because I know it’s going to help somebody and I sleep really well,” says Maisie of her ten day challenge.
Her parents and younger brother Finlay, seven, are extremely proud of Maisie and everything she has achieved.
“She just wants to help other children like her who have an amputation or limb difference,” says Sharon.