Fifteen years ago, a woman from Bushey’s life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with an incurable rare disease called Sarcoidosis.
Juliet Coffer has been attached to oxygen 24 hours a day for the past six years and even walking is a challenge because her lungs are only 20 per cent efficient taking in air.
Despite her struggles, Juliet decided to take on the admirable task of walking 3000 meters in 30 days in April to raise money for the charity Sarcoidosis UK.
Last month Juliet featured in BusheyNews for her fundraising efforts and since then, her walking challenge has blown up and raised more than £15,000 for charity.
She said: “It has just been an amazing month that has gone way beyond expectations, to reach £15,000 is just incredible, a number I never thought I’d see. I have recently found out that The British Lung Foundation will match the amount I raise which means over £30,000 for the charity.
“The challenge went really well and I was truly amazed at what I was capable of. I planned to walk 100 meters a day and by the end of the challenge, I was walking 150-200 meters a day. I think there is a lesson in there for everybody, if you put your mind to something, you can do it.”
Juliet was grateful to receive a surge of donations when she featured on television on regional BBC News, who captured the final moments of her month-long challenge on camera.
She said: “It was amazing to watch it on TV and see the donations flying in. I was on the phone with my parents and my email box started pinging with notifications as people donated. That was a magical moment because suddenly I realised people got it, people understood it and appreciated how difficult it has been for me.
“Sharing that moment with my parents and husband was magical. I never imagined I’d be on TV and in magazines. Sometimes you get good moments in life and you just have to enjoy them, sit there and take it in as they don’t come around very often.”
Juliet added that the best things to come from the challenge are the huge amount of money raised, the number of people with a connection to sarcoidosis that she has been able to signpost to resources and how beneficial the exercise has been to her joints and movements.
The Sarcoidosis UK support group in Hertfordshire are actively looking for more members to meet people who understand and share sarcoidosis experiences. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Leo Casimo, Senior Executive at SarcoidosisUK said: “Juliet’s challenge is so inspiring. Whilst an extra 3km in a month might not seem like a huge amount to the average person, this is a real challenge for Juliet. On top of all this, she is raising funds for research into a cure for sarcoidosis so that in the future other people don’t have to go through what she has.
“Juliet has also done a tremendous job of raising awareness of the condition. Her amazing challenge has really put a spotlight on sarcoidosis and has meant that lots of people, who otherwise might never have heard of the condition, are hearing about it now. Juliet is an absolute superstar and we cannot thank her enough for everything that she has done for people with sarcoidosis. Thank you and congratulations, Juliet.”
Looking to the future, Juliet hopes to work with Sarcoidosis UK and use her skills to contribute ideas for other fundraising events that are more accessible to members of the sarcoidosis community.
Juliet concluded: “If I can leave the world in a better place, even in a small way, then I have achieved something good.”
Her fundraising page remains open for donations at justgiving.com/fundraising/julietcoffer