Edge Hill University works with leading heart charity Cardiac Risk in the Young to offer free cardiac screening sessions, and Mike Vella wanted to raise money for this to continue.
Mike Vella from Skelmersdale travelled to Peru to complete the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the most famous trek in South America, and the 26 mile trek took Mike and two of his friends four days to complete.
In preparation for the trek, the strenuous training schedule involved regularly climbing Snowdon, Scafell and Ben Nevis, as well as many hours in the gym, however this couldn’t prepare him for the effects of the altitude.
“One day we walked vertically for seven hours to Dead woman’s pass,” said Mike. “Altitude was a real problem and I suffered with nausea and shortage of breath, which I can only describe as like walking up Ben Nevis twice with a face mask on. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but the sense of achievement when I hit the summit was fantastic.
“I spent hours walking through jungles and rainforests where I saw hummingbirds and hundreds of butterflies. The scenery was fantastic and the view from when I finally reached Machu Picchu will stay with me forever. It felt so magical and spiritual, and unless you walk the trail and feel it for yourself you cannot sense its values.
“Three years ago I took my two children to get heart screenings and met a lady called Maureen Marshall,” said Mike. “She informed me about Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), and told me about the sad loss of her son John.
“Maureen is a very special person who has given up thousands of hours to CRY to help prevent tragedies in our community, and she is truly an inspiration.
“We dedicated our trek to the memory of John Marshall, Zac and Kelsey Taylor, and Antony Webb – all local children who sadly died of undiagnosed heart defects.
Each week in the UK, at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions and Edge Hill is trying to help reduce this figure by bringing a mobile medical test centre into the University each year to carry out free testing in an attempt to raise awareness and identify young people at risk.
Maureen Marshall, who works in Edge Hill’s catering department, was a founder for this initiative and works tirelessly to help students receive these tests in memory of her son John, who died suddenly from a condition known as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) in 1995, aged just 16.
If you would like to donate to CRY, you can access Mike’s JustGiving page here.