Woman with cerebral palsy to walk for first time in memory of 15 friends who died too young
25-year-old said she "cannot afford to waste a moment" after series of tragedies
27 July, 2017 — By Tom Foot
JESSI Parrott is preparing to walk on her own for the first time, in memory of 15 of her former school friends who have died too young.
The 25-year-old, who grew up in West Hampstead but now lives in Highgate Road, Parliament Hill, has been training in a walker and plans to march 100 metres at Parallel London, a charity event set to be held at the Olympic Park on September 3.
Jessi has cerebral palsy – a movement disorder that can bring about a premature death – and went to a disabled school outside of London for young people with similar conditions. After hearing an old school friend, Shane, had died, she reflected that it was her 15th friend to die because of their condition or disability and that she “cannot afford to waste a moment”.
She said: “I am going to walk 100 metres with the support of a walking frame in September to commemorate all of my angels, because they are responsible for getting me through my roughest patches and reminding me that I have both the strength and the responsibility to keep going. Whilst this might not be the most mammoth of distances, it certainly will be a stretch for me. I have never walked independently.”
She added: “I walked several steps supported by my mum and godmother to collect my BA degree, but this is by far the most significant and extensive physical challenge I have ever undertaken. At the moment I have only taken a few steps in my walker, and am training regularly in hydrotherapy and in a standing hoist at home, but the attempt at a 100-metre walk is quite huge.”
She said: “Within a community like ours we are far too intimately acquainted with death, and exist with perpetual tenterhooks at the back of our minds. It is still a shock, and especially in this case as Shane was always such a fighter and had come through so many times before. I have been feeling absolutely desperate, not just with my own grief, but in thinking about my friends who had extra years at school and college with him after I left.”
Jessi’s family have set up a fundraising page to raise money for the walker she needs with any extras going to the charity Starlight. The national children’s charity is dedicated to brightening the lives of children and teenagers suffering from a serious or terminal illness.
Jessi added: “I have been thinking once more about how I can stretch my boundaries and give back to the charity that got me through my rockiest moments. Of course a marathon in the usual sense is far beyond feasible, but I wanted to do something closer to a traditional sporting event.”
To get involved visit https://www.justgiving. com/fundraising/Parrott-Does-Parallel