A FATHER-of-three from Wokingham is about to embark on a charity challenge which will see him row one million metres in 12 months.
Tony Eames, 37, is aiming to raise awareness for heart charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) after her was diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, known as Long QT, when he was just 12-years-old.
After a long history of fainting attacks and subsequent misdiagnoses, Tony was eventually fitted with a pacemaker, and takes medication to this day, but he says he doesn’t let his condition hold him back from living life to the full and taking part in numerous charity fundraisers, including carrying the Paralympic torch in the 2012 London Games on behalf of CRY.
Tony said: “For eight years my family doctor had treated my fainting attacks as epilepsy and panic attacks. It was even suggested that I be sent to a psychiatric institution, something my parents refused to allow.
“No-one had thought of testing my heart and all that time I was at risk of a sudden fatal attack.
“However, following various investigations I was finally diagnosed and the condition controlled by daily beta blockers – before having my pacemaker fitted. Whilst my early years were a constant challenge the condition and challenges during this time have shaped me and ultimately developed my appreciation for what is in front of us.”
Every week in the UK, at least 12 young people (aged under 35) die suddenly from previously undiagnosed heart conditions, with around 80% of those deaths occurring with no prior symptoms.
Tony is hoping that his million-metre challenge, which will see him complete each leg before breakfast every day, will encourage others to seek help and support.
He said: “I have a bucket list of experiences, challenges and personal development initiatives that I have achieved and want to complete as a result of my early years. The Million Metre Challenge is one of those items!
“Since becoming involved with CRY, I’ve been encouraged to tell my story, letting other young people who might be going through the same experience know that they are not alone. Help and support is available along with the opportunity to make a difference to others.”
CRY is funding pioneering research into the conditions that cause young sudden cardiac death, as well as providing a unique bereavement support network for all families who have been affected.
As such, the charity’s screening programme now tests around 23,000 young people (aged 14-35) every year in the UK.
Dr Steven Cox, CEO of CRY, says; “Tony has always been a great inspiration and very willing to spread the word and share his experiences with other young people affected by a serious heart condition, particularly through CRY’s unique myheart support group. He’s never let his own condition or long battle for diagnoses get in the way of his dreams and we wish him every luck with his million-metre challenge – as well as those early morning starts!”
To find out more about Tony’s challenge and to follow his progress visit www.millionmetrechallenge.com