They say to understand someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
But Fleetwood mum Charlene Donnelly will be walking 22km every day, for 22 days, to try to help understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
She will cover more than 300 miles, spending the best part of a month on a treadmill, to raise funds for charity Combat Stress, which supports veterans with mental health issues – including PTSD.
Charlene knows first-hand about the daily challenges PTSD brings, as her husband Darren spent 12 years in the military and served on missions all over the world including Iraq.
For the years that have followed, Darren, his wife and children, have lived with the devastating effects of PTSD.
Combat Stress has given Darren the lifeline many PTSD sufferers so desperately need, rebuilding his confidence and mental health through free specialist clinical treatment.
Charlene, who will be taking on her challenge throughout January at Gymetc in Poulton, was inspired by the 22 push-up daily challenge which went viral on social media earlier this year.
The 32-year-old said: “I wanted to do something which took the push-up challenge that little bit further, as I’ve been so overwhelmed by the impact Combat Stress has had on our family this year.
“I’m hoping that my endless days of walking will go some distance to highlighting the long and lonely battle that my husband and all those living with PTSD deal with each and every day.”
She will start her challenge on January 9 and she will be walking for three-and-a-half to four hours a day.
She has spent time throughout December training and preparing for the feat.
She said: “My legs have been getting sore, and I am very nervous.
“It’s going to be a half marathon every day, so I have found it’s about getting the right pace. It’s so important for me to do this.”
“As far as I’m aware, this has never been done by a wife, a walking challenge.
“People have run it, but I wanted to walk it as it takes longer.
“It can take veterans a long time to seek help. With running, I would have got it over quickly, but walking takes a lot longer.
“It represents the fact it can take veterans a long time – I think on average between 12 and 13 years – to ask for help.
“And walking can be lonely, but for veterans life can be very lonely.
“I would love it if anyone would come along and join me for a bit when I am walking, it would be really nice to get some serving soldiers or veterans to come along and walk with me. I’d appreciate any support.”
Gymetc will be setting up a treadmill alongside Charlene, so her friends, family and local residents can join her each day and walk in the shoes of veterans living with PTSD.
Darren says he is proud of his wife’s commitment to give something back for the care and support he has received.
He said: “Charlene has seen the darkest sides of my illness and has thankfully stood by me. I’m proud of her for giving this challenge a go and I hope it will highlight the strength of all veterans’ wives and girlfriends.”
To support Charlene raise as much money as possible to help fund the cost of the six week intensive training programme run by Combat Stress, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/charlenedonnelly or text PTSD90 to 70070. You can follow her on Twitter @wifeofptsdvet