Alumni to walk 100 miles for ex-SU officer with MS

A group of former University of Leicester students will walk more than 100 miles to raise money for their friend with multiple sclerosis.

Joe Martin was a sabbatical officer at the University’s Students’ Union between 2005 and 2006 and was diagnosed with MS in 2013.

Given that Joe is also a huge West Ham United fan, a group of more than a dozen alumni, will walk from the University of Leicester to London Stadium on Friday, September 9.

The friends are hoping to raise £100,000 to help adapt Joe’s bungalow to his needs as well as build him an outdoor office so that he can comfortably work from home.

They will set off from College Court Conference Centre in Knighton at 5pm and hope to walk for more than 40 hours to the home of West Ham United in one go.

Joe, who is originally from Bury St Edmonds, had been a regular gym goer and keen footballer before his MS diagnosis.

He had been in Australia when he started to develop the first signs of the illness which is caused by the immune system attacking the brain and nerves.

Joe said: “I was diagnosed with MS in 2013 but I was displaying systems a lot earlier, maybe three years earlier.

“For the first few years, nothing really happened and then it suddenly accelerated quite badly and now I have found myself in the position where I can’t really get out of the house anymore.

“Having been previously very active, moving abroad and doing lots of things it has been very difficult. I’ve been pretty much sat in the same room for the last eight months and I am looking forward to that coming to an end.”

He said: “It has been really tough but one of the things that have kept me going has been my group of friends, both here at home and at University.

“When one of them mentioned to me that they wanted to do this walk at the start of the year, I thought that it was so nice but they would never be able to pull it off, it’s a huge walk.

“It is just really touching because it is from Leicester which will always have a massive place in my heart and is a place that I would love to visit again.

“I haven’t been able to go for the last couple of years and that has been hard as well because it is always nice to see how the University has changed and how it has grown. I’m expecting to see incredible things the next time I make it to Leicester.”

“I am so lucky to have these guys as friends. The fact that they are willing to put their bodies through that to do something that will benefit only one person is nothing short of heroic and so hugely appreciated.”

Joe’s friend and former President of the University of Leicester Student’s Union, Martin Cullen said: “We have been very close to Joe for a very long time.

“For us as a group of friends, we started to delve into it more and tried to understand the everyday challenges that Joe has to go through. It is relentless for him, every day can be such a challenge.

“As a group of friends we woke up and thought that we need to try and do something because Joe has always been so positive and dealt with everything despite the challenges.

“We just wanted to help in some way to give him a more comfortable life and make some progress.”

More information about Joe’s story and the walk can be found here.