After all that hard work and planning I have achieved my dream. I have been to the United States of America. And what an adventure it was!
There’s so much to say – too much to say! It was incredible, life changing, hilarious, beautiful, humbling and ridiculous. I’m not going to be one of those people who says that they loved every minute because honestly… I didn’t. There were tough moments. Moments where I wished things didn’t have to be a certain way, or happen a certain way – but that’s to be expected on such a big trip and none of those things retract anything from the thousands of other spectacular experiences I had.
I have so much to tell you all, but this post isn’t the place for it. Over the coming weeks (*cough* months *cough*) I’ll write a collection of posts on my adventure; my highlights, equipment reviews, my thoughts on America and so on and so forth – in fact, if you want to read about anything in particular from my trip, leave me a comment below or contact me on my various social medias and I’ll do my best to write about what you want to know.
At the end of this post I have a very exciting announcement, but for now I want to dedicate this post to every person who has helped me achieve this crazy dream of mine. In no particular order…
My Donors and Fundraisers
It still astounds me to know that people, you wonderful people, have given me your hard earned money so that I could go on my insane adventure. Your money made a huge impact on the viability of this trip. Without it I doubt my trip would have gone ahead in the way that it did at all. A special shout out to the Winton Benevolent Fund, Roger Duckworth Physiotherapy Team, BWB Technologies, Christopher Holder and Lesley Anderson.
Thank you is not enough.
Julia, Stu and Dreams Come True
The charity Dreams Come True very generously gave me £3000 towards my trip! This money helped me pay for the hire vehicle we used in America. However Dreams Come True would never have known about me if it weren’t for Julia and Stu. Julia is an ex nurse from Naomi House & Jacksplace and her husband Stu has done a huge amount of fundraising for Dreams Come True; well they told the charity about me and my trip and I was placed on the waiting list for funds and in April this year I was gifted the money. I am so grateful and humbled by this gesture, I still can’t believe it! I look forward to potentially volunteering with Dreams Come True in the future!
Thank you is not enough.
Companies & other individuals
There are many companies, and people within those companies, that have helped me get this trip off the ground:
Everyone at Virgin Atlantic were all incredible; from the special assistance team who dealt with our endless phone calls and emails, to Warren who helped me with all my complicated ticket booking, to the two cabin crews who looked after us so fabulously on both flights. My team, friends, family and I were treated magnificently which made my experience of flying so smooth and memorable. Couldn’t have asked for better treatment. I would like to particularly mention Geraldine, Virgin’s Passenger Accessibility Manager. I worked with Geraldine for over a year to make my ability to fly possible. Her support and belief in my trip really gave me the confidence that what I was proposing wasn’t completely out of the realms of possibility! I can’t thank her enough!
OmniServ at Heathrow who were essential in guiding us through the airport and helping me transfer on the plane! They also very kindly gave me a dream catcher!
AATGB – This company sold me my Stabilo! The big blue beanbag thing I used on the aeroplane. A very significant piece of equipment! My experience of flying wouldn’t have been the same without it…
Mobility Works – This is the company I hired Wilbur (our car) from! I must say though that all our thanks goes to Kyle, the person who helped arrange everything and who we corresponded with the most regarding our hire vehicle. He went above and beyond what was expected, from picking us up at the airport on arrival, to answering our every query with speed and professionalism, to getting his Mum to collect the car in Manhattan. My team and I could not be more grateful. Wilbur was a wonderful vehicle (I miss her greatly), the road trip would have been very different without her and it’s all down to Kyle and Mobility Works.
Judy and Don from our first Airbnb were the most loveliest people you could possibly meet! They were helpful beyond expectations and we all felt so welcomed to their home. We made a typical English afternoon tea for them…
Etac – The company I bought my Molift Smart 150 portable hoist from – Mo for short! I love this hoist – it served us well and I’m immensely pleased with it!
PureO2 – This lovely company hired out to me a Portable Oxygen Concentrator at very short notice! It’s a long story, but without this piece of equipment the trip would have not happened. More on that another time!
DisabledHolidays.com – I was really struggling with finding suitable accommodation in Manhattan so I turned to DisabledHolidays.com to help me and they did not disappoint. The New Yorker was a magnificent hotel!
Fish Insurance – The only travel insurance company that would cover me, or at least at a reasonably affordable cost! Anyone with a pre-existing condition, or specifically Muscular Dystrophy, I recommend Fish!
I would like to mention Martyn Sibley, he was a great influencer on my travel ideas as he’s a prominent disabled traveller himself and I was inspired by his efforts and approach to disabled travel. I was lucky enough to speak with Martyn about my trip and he was incredibly encouraging and put me in contact with Geraldine at Virgin! An introduction that changed the course of my trip irrevocably.
My AFK (Formally Action for Kids) – This charity helped fund 50% of my new wheelchair meaning I had a good, reliable wheelchair to take to America!
Ollie from Visual Logistics, a course mate from university, produced my first fundraising video when I launched my GoFundMe campaign! Go check out his work, you won’t regret it.
Naomi House & Jacksplace, who I have a lot to thank for, but specifically related to this trip, without my connection with Naomi and Jacks I wouldn’t have found the amazing team who came with me to America!
The Royal Brompton Hospital – My consultant, Professor Anita Simonds, and the respiratory team at The Royal Brompton Hospital were paramount in getting me to America. They cleared me for flying, acquired all the respiratory equipment I’d need for the trip and supported me so much with confidence and enthusiasm. I couldn’t ask for better medical support!
To everyone in this list: Thank you is not enough.
My care team at home
My care team at home have had to put up with all my endless talk of my plans, deal with my anxiety and stress, help me pack and making sure I had everything I needed, taking me to and from the airport and still being here after my seven week absence – all with wonderful patience and understanding.
Thank you is not enough.
My America Team
Where do I even begin to explain the awesomeness of my America support team…?!? Alison, Sandra, Hester, Sarah, Christine, Debbie B, Debbie S, Kate and Sam… These amazing women took time out of their lives to come away with me, they helped me organise and arrange a lot of the trip and they gave me the courage to travel knowing I was completely safe in their care. They are also the craziest bunch of people and we weren’t short of laughs! I am not exaggerating when I say this trip wouldn’t have gone ahead without these people. No matter if I’d had everything booked and sorted and came across no obstacles, without a support team there would 100% have been no trip. Therefore it goes without saying that the dedication of my team is immeasurable. I will always be eternally grateful for absolutely everything, but really…
Thank you is not enough.
All of my friends have been extraordinary, no matter how I was feeling about my trip they were there to encourage me. Though all of my friends are amazing, I want to acknowledge my friends Katie and Paige. They came away with me to America: Katie to Los Angeles and Las Vegas and Paige to New York City. I can’t put into words what this means to me… I’ve never been abroad with friends before and to have gone away on a life long dream with these two remarkable woman makes me unimaginably happy. They are ferociously supportive and I know, whether I need motivation or a smack back to reality, I can always rely on them. I’ve got memories for life from their time with me in America and I feel inconceivably lucky.
Thank you is not enough.
My long suffering family; what can I possibly say about these outstanding people? I honestly have no words…
To my extended family, thank you for your belief in me, your enthusiasm for my trip, and your exceedingly generous financial and practical support… It feels wonderful to know that you’re my family and I am very very lucky to have you!
To my close family: my sister Emily, my Mum and my Dad. You guys have been there from the very start of all this, and though at times I know you’ve been concerned and cautioned me about how extensive my plans were getting, you never tried to stop me. Your support is indescribable. I am beyond lucky to have you in my life.
Thank you really is not enough.
I am an extremely lucky human.
Those of you who follow my social media will already know about this, but I’ve got a big announcement!!
We’re making a documentary!!!!!
Yep! I’ve been keeping a secret from you all. Mwahaha! We were doing lots and lots of filming while we travelled America! The documentary is being created and produced by my amazing friend Katie and myself. I promise it’ll be a documentary like you’ve never seen before…!
So please stick around, my trip might be over but I am not finished sharing it and advocating for disabled travel. We are still very much in the early stages of making it and in the upcoming weeks you’ll see our progress and when the time comes we’ll release a trailer and later details on screenings! All of this will be shared on my social media so go check them out if you haven’t already (links below) I hope to see you along for the next chapter of Live The Dream!
Until next time, always be kind and live your dreams! ❤