A north London mum who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago will climb Mount Etna next month to launch her new charity.
Toni Krok is establishing MS Positive with the help of friends Janine Oppenheim and Pam Pines. She will be joined by two dozen supporters and medics on the fundraising challenge.
Covering more than 50 kilometres over three days and ascending around 2,000 metres, the group hopes to raise at least £40,000 to provide practical and emotional support to those with MS and their families.
“When I heard the words ‘multiple sclerosis’ I immediately thought I was going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair,” Ms Krok recalled.
“Over time, I came to understand that MS affects everyone differently. Like everybody else, I have good days and bad days. I have learned how to look after myself and responded with positive thinking, exercise and healthy eating.”
But talking to others with the disease, the Highgate Synagogue member realised that “many were less well supported than I was and found it harder to be positive about living with MS”.
Her initial response was to fundraise for the MS Society, “an amazing charity. But still I felt something was missing. I wanted to provide the bespoke support that, with the best will in the world, is always a challenge for an organisation on the scale of the MS Society.”
MS Positive will work within north London, complementing existing charities and networks. “We will be the MS charity with the can-do attitude — and what better way to show that than to climb an active volcano?”
By next year, it intends to offer a help-line, a regular programme of exercise classes and a range of forums for individuals and their families.
The plan is to hold its first free class on November 19 to coincide with Mitzvah Day.