Paul hitting the heights in treadmill challenge
An Edinburgh man with multiple sclerosis (MS) plans to climb to the top of the world’s highest peak – using a treadmill.
Paul Kellas, 51, who suffers from secondary progressive MS, hopes to raise money and awareness for MS Society Scotland, a charity where he volunteers as a council member.
Paul has been taking on this challenge in an Edinburgh gym alongside friend John Jarman, who also has the condition.
He said: “Taking on this challenge has been life-changing.
“Before I met John, I was doing no exercise. It’s given me something to aim for. People with MS need a challenge in life too.”
The pair started the challenge in January and have already exceeded the height of Ben Nevis. The next virtual milestone Paul and John have set for their challenge is the 15,780ft Mont Blanc.
Starting from an incline of 2.5 per cent on the gym’s treadmill, the pair are hoping to walk 220 miles and complete the 29,029ft ascent of Mount Everest by Hogmanay.
This is a particularly difficult challenge for Paul and John as both men struggle with their mobility as a result of their MS. In fact, both Paul and John use walking aids and can only walk for short periods of time. They need to rest every 100 metres, so the 220 miles to Everest is a huge challenge.
Paul said that climbing Everest virtually is a great way of adapting a challenge to enable people with limited mobility to get involved in fundraising.
He added: “John and I couldn’t do this challenge outside of a gym and we can’t walk large distances at once. We need to take regular breaks. It’s been great being able to complete a challenge at a pace that suits our needs.
“We’ve both nearly quit already on separate occasions but we both encourage and support each other to keep going – together we can do this.”
Paul would like to see more people with MS taking part in similar challenges but he believes people can be put off as they may risk losing out on vital benefits payments.
He continued: “People with MS can be scared to do any challenges in case people think they have a greater level of mobility than they actually have.”
The current Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which Paul and John receive, has seen countless people lose out on support they need since its introduction.
The Scottish Government will be replacing PIP with Disability Assistance for Working Age People (DAWAP) from early 2021 but the form this will take is still to be agreed.
Paul is a member of MS Society Scotland’s national council and is no longer able to work due to his MS.