Pyrenees trek

Max De Luca is doing a trek in Spain to raise money for Feet First, a charity run by the surgeon who operated on his partner Samantha Rawstron.

Max De Luca is doing a trek in Spain to raise money for Feet First, a charity run by the surgeon who operated on his partner Samantha Rawstron.

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THEY call him Super Steve, and Samantha Rawstron certainly believes he is a hero.

Now the 41-year-old former radio station worker and her partner, Max De Luca, want to do all they can to help Blackpool orthopaedic surgeon Steve Mannion, after he saved Samantha’s legs.

The couple, from St Annes, are so grateful, Max is gearing up for a mammoth trek to raise funds for a charity set up by the medic, called Feet First.

Mr Mannion’s charity works to treat and reduce clubfoot in developing countries. It is focusing on Malawi, in Central Africa, and Laos in South East Asia, where clubfoot could lead to a life of disability, leading to poverty and misery.

Samantha needed surgery –performed by Mr Mannion – due to a rare bone disease she developed as a complication of diabetes.

She said: “I’ve had complications with diabetes, such as kidney disease and bone problems.

“In 2009, when I was in Egypt, I sprained my left ankle, and after I got back, it just collapsed. It was like rubble.

“Last year, I slipped and tried to protect that ankle and ended up snapping the tibia in my right leg – it came through the skin.

“Apparently only 0.01 per cent of diabetics also have this condition – it’s called Charcot Foot – which causes weakness in the muscles, and that leads to the bones being prone to snapping.”

Samantha had to give up work because of her medical problems, but worked on radio for 22 years. She said: “Super Steve came along – because he had treated my other leg – and operated.

“I had metal rods put in, and a plaster cast up to my thigh.

“But he managed to save my leg, which otherwise would have had to be amputated.

“I had diabetes type one for 30 years when I was told I would never be able to walk again.

“I want to raise awareness of how serious an illness it is.

“My body is riddled with neuropathy in my muscles and I have the neuropathic joint disease in my legs.

“The two operations I had on my legs last November and December have worsened my chronic kidney disease, so now they are only working at 28 per cent.

“But at the end of the day I am still breathing and will continue to raise awareness to help others too.”

“Max has always wanted to do the St James walk across France and Spain, as a personal challenge and thought it would be a nice way to raise funds for Mr Mannion’s charity, to say thank you, and help put something back.”

Max, 32, will start the solo two-month 227km trek in February – starting in Paris and finishing in Santiago De Compostela, Spain.

The ancient trail will take him across the Pyrenees, and is known as the Way of St James, based on the discovery of the tomb of St James, the apostle, in Galicia early, Spain, in the ninth century.

Max, who is now full-time carer to Samantha, will have minimal equipment – a backpack with a few changes of clothes, a camera, and a GPS tracker – to allow family and those who have sponsored him to view his co-ordinates and track his progress.

Samantha said: “I would love to do it, too, but obviously that’s not possible.

“At least I won’t be too worried about Max trekking alone over the Pyrenees, because I can check up on him with the GPS.”

Max said: “My aim is to raise £100,000 and stage a ball upon completion of the challenge.

“Although this is a personal journey of discovery for myself, the overall distance is for the sponsorship.

“The sponsorship will go towards giving a life back to an individual, and providing them with the perfect means to providing for themselves, after surgery performed by Steve Mannion.”