By Cate McCurry, PA
An Irish social media influencer is urging the public to join her for a 10,000-steps-a-day challenge next month for charity Debra Ireland.
Trisha Lewis, whose Instagram account has more than 200,000 followers, has teamed up with Debra’s patient ambassador Emma Fogarty to launch the inaugural StepTember Challenge – set to be a vital fundraiser for the organisation.
Participants are asked to sign up to complete 10,000 steps a day for the month of September.
Emma, 37, from Abbeyleix, Co Laois, was born with epidermolysis bullosa (EB), also known as butterfly skin – a genetic disease that causes the skin, both inside and out, to blister at the slightest touch.
Around 80 per cent of her body is covered in open wounds and must be bandaged every single day, which could last two to five hours.
Following a recent health setback, she now uses a wheelchair.
Debra Ireland provides patient support services and drives research into treatments and cures for those with the condition.
Debra ambassador Trisha said: “10,000 steps a day is a challenge but we hope it will be manageable for most people and we would like as many as possible to sign up – wherever they want to do it – in September for €20.”
The 33-year-old’s Instagram account, Trisha’s Transformation, has become a major hit, offering advice on weight loss, healthy eating and lifestyle.
“If you complete the 10,000 steps a day for the month, it translates as 300,000 steps over the month. That’s 1,000 steps for each of the 300 patients living with EB in Ireland,” she said.
“Walking 10,000 steps roughly translates into a distance of eight kilometres, so over the course of the month, participants will cover 240km, the distance from Dublin to Ennis.”
Emma paid tribute to the volunteers set to take on StepTember.
“It honestly means the world to see people signing up to take on this challenge and fundraise for Debra Ireland – and I want to thank them more sincerely,” she added.
“Debra Ireland is an amazing charity. I am so lucky to have them, because without them, and our amazing supporters, we wouldn’t be able to get nurses or research funding and they deserve all the help they can get.
“The pain I endure, all the time, whether I’m sitting in a chair or lying in bed, is almost unbearable and I am on a huge amount of medication, which really only takes the edge off the pain.
“So any funding we can raise will go to making sure that every patient and family gets the support they need through our medical grants, respite support and our amazing frontline team of patient support workers, so they don’t feel so alone.”
Each day of the challenge, participants will receive an email giving them access to Debra’s interactive virtual map, to see how they are making a difference.
You can sign up for €20 at debraireland.org to get your specially designed StepTember T-shirt. Individuals and teams are also welcome.