A six-year-old girl with muscular dystrophy, dubbed a ‘real-life Wonder Girl’ by actor Gal Gadot, has walked 300km in 30 days as part of a 2,000km charity challenge.
Carmela Chillery-Watson has LMNA Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, a very rare form of the genetic condition, which gradually causes muscles to weaken.
The schoolgirl came up with the Wonder Woman-inspired challenge of walking the equivalent of the 2,000km distance from her home near Devizes in Wiltshire to Ravello, Italy, which is the filming location of Wonder Woman 1984, out in October.
With the help of friends and family they planned to share the 2000 kilometres to achieve the distance, with Carmela and her mum, Lucy taking on 300km in 30 days, which is the equivalent of seven marathons.
At the beginning of September, Carmela and her mother set about their incredible challenge dressed in Wonder Woman costumes.
And now the mother-daughter duo have finished their journey, and more than doubled Carmela’s fundraising target of £6,000 by raising almost £14,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK.
“Well I did it! Thank you so much to absolutely everyone who has supported us and helped us raise an incredible amount for Muscular Dystrophy UK,” a celebratory post on Facebook reads.
“It has certainly been a month to remember forever.”
As she crossed the finishing line on her incredible challenge on September 30, Carmela was greeted by none other than Batman who hopped out of his Batmobile to congratulate her.
“Thank you so much to Devon Super Team for surprising Carmela with #Batman as she finished her last climb to the finish line,” the post continues.
“It certainly helped give Carmela the ending she deserved on a wet, windy and cold day, so thank you.”
Carmela’s fundraising efforts also caught the attention of Gal Gadot, the actor who plays Wonder Woman, who tweeted her support.
Messaging Carmela, she wrote: “You’re a true hero. So inspiring and strong. I hope one day we get to meet each other. Until then I’m sending you lots of love and a big, big hug!”
To which Carmela replied: “Oh my goodness, my superhero sent me a message! Thank you so much you have really put a big smile on my face.”
My real wonder girl! Wow this video blew my mind. You’re a true hero. So inspiring and strong. I hope one day we get to meet each other. Until then I’m sending you lots of love and a big big hug!!! https://t.co/6K13LZI18y— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) September 9, 2020
Speaking as the team began their challenge, Carmela’s mother Lucy said: “Walking 1km a day is the equivalent of a marathon for Carmela who can not do things other children take for granted.
“I am so very proud of Carmela’s happy disposition every day throughout this trek. She is walking 10km daily with my help.”
Watch: Former nurse complete incredible charity walk on her 102nd birthday
The challenge seems all the more incredible when you learn about the difficulties Carmela had to face to achieve it.
“She is unable to run, jump, and walk up steps or curbs,” her mum explains. “She has lost the ability to lift her arms above her head and has lost the strength in her neck.
“Simple tasks like scratching her head, itching her nose and brushing her teeth are a real battle. Walking the distance will be a huge personal challenge.
“But whilst her muscles are weak on the outside, her inner strength is unstoppable and her determination to live life to the full makes us all strong.”
Lucy explained that as Carmela’s strength has already started to deteriorate, it was important for her and her family to do the walk while she still can.
“Time is so precious for Carmela. She has lost five months in shielding and she desperately wants to complete her challenge before her condition robs her of her ability to walk,” she says.
“She is so determined to do all of this to raise money, so that Muscular Dystrophy UK can continue to provide care and research into conditions for children like herself.”
Commenting on Carmela’s amazing achievement, Catherine Woodhead, from muscular dystrophy, said: “COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our charity, Muscular Dystrophy UK.
“But we’re still committed to making every day count for the 70,000 people in the UK with a muscle-wasting condition.
“Carmela’s fundraising challenge will help us to support research into rare muscle wasting conditions, like Carmela’s.
“We are currently co-funding a world class research project into Carmela’s condition, called LMNA-CMD. Her challenge will help us to get a step closer to our ultimate goal of finding a treatments or cure for muscle-wasting conditions.”
Donations are still being accepted, anyone who wishes to contribute should visit the family’s Just Giving page.
What is muscular dystrophy?
According to the NHS, muscular dystrophies (MD) are a group of inherited genetic conditions that gradually cause the muscles to weaken, leading to an increasing level of disability.
“MD is a progressive condition, which means it gets worse over time,” the site explains. “It often begins by affecting a particular group of muscles, before affecting the muscles more widely.”
In the UK, around 70,000 people have MD or a related condition.
Some types of MD eventually affect the heart or the muscles used for breathing, at which point the condition becomes life-threatening.
The condition is caused by mutations in the genes responsible for the structure and functioning of a person's muscles.
While there is no cure for MD, treatment can help to manage many of the symptoms and include mobility assistance – including exercise and physiotherapy, surgery to correct postural deformities and medication – such as steroids to improve muscle strength.
Additional reporting SWNS.