My name is Rose Liagridonis and although I am not a particularly shy or private person, I've never been someone who overtly celebrates my birthday. I've always chosen to share my special day with my closest people in relatively low-key ways.
2013 is the year I turn 40 years old and this year is going to be different! I plan to spend the first 40 days of my 40th year celebrating with as many people as I can, doing the things I love and doing the things I've always wanted to do in order to raise money for three charities close to my heart.
By organising and participating in events and challenges for each day of my "40 Days of Turning 40", which begins on my birthday, Thursday 3rd October 2013, and ends 40 days later on Monday 11th November 2013. Through this website, my Facebook page and other social media I plan to keep friends, family and anyone who's interested updated on ways they can join in and help raise awareness and funds.
1. On 20th April 2011, my good friend Nicola Addems gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy named Rudy. Rudy was born with a rare neurological condition called pontocerebellar hypoplasia (PCH). On 4th December 2012 Rudy died.
Nicola and her husband, Stuart, are also parents to a wonderful little boy named Miller. Miller is my daughter's best friend. Nicola and her family have touched my life and my daughter's life in a way that words cannot express. Regardless of her situation, Nicola always has made time to comfort and support me in my times of need. My troubles severely pale in comparison to what Nicola and her family have gone through, but Nicola has always made me feel like my issues were significant and worthy of being addressed.
Rudy filled the hearts of everyone around him with immense and pure love. With Nicola's permission, my goal is to raise awareness of Rudy's condition and to do my small part in keeping Rudy's memory alive.
2. On 24th February 2012, my best friend Kyra Bell became very ill. She went to bed and slept for sixteen hours. When she awoke, her life changed forever. Kyra lost virtually all sight in both eyes and on 12th June 2012, Kyra's 38th birthday, she was diagnosed with neuromeylitis optica (NMO).
On 18th October 2012, Kyra was told that for two years she unknowingly had been living with a rare form of lung cancer -- a cancer that chooses to attack healthy 38 year old women. She was given between 12-18 months to live.
For over twenty years Kyra has been a true constant in my life. Regardless of distance between us or length of time between visits, the close bond we share has only strengthened and deepened. Our conversations consist of the meaningful and the mundane. We cry and we laugh, and throughout this horrific chain of events we have continued to laugh.
Kyra has always lived her life with purpose and conviction. Her positive disposition and strength of character is an inspiration. Like a true fighter, she has given consent for tissue samples to be taken from her body and donated to NMO research.
In my own way and in a way that Kyra fully supports, I hope to raise awareness of NMO and the unique challenges of being diagnosed with a rare disease.
3. On 15th May 1941, Dimitrios Liagridonis was born in Greece one month after the Nazi German occupation of his country. Eight months later Dimitrios contracted the poliomyelitis virus, an infectious disease more commonly known as polio. Throughout his life Dimitrios has undergone over twenty operations on his legs due to complications relating to this virus.
As a man passionate about sport, his disability sadly hindered him from playing the sports he loved. However, his lack of physical ability enabled him to overcompensate in other areas and he became an expert hunter and marksman -- past times he shared with his three brothers and other members of his family.
Later in his life Dimitrios, who is also known as Jim, began to experience a gradual weakening in his muscles -- the beginning of post polio syndrome (PPS). He must now use a motorised wheelchair to get around. This is not because he is paralysed, but because the everyday movements that we take for granted place a disproportionate amount of strain on his muscles, which could subsequently lead to a heart attack.
Jim is my dad.
The charities I will be supporting are:
The Joshua Deeth Foundation
The Butterfly Group
British Polio Fellowship
Please help me make a difference.