On Monday 1 August, Carmela’s family and 11 friends will set out on a one-day 66-mile cycle ride on Wiltshire's Route 66. Carmela has named the event ‘Wonder Wheels’– and is inviting you to get involved by doing a sponsored solidarity cycle ride where you live – or by sponsoring her.
Carmela from Market Lavington, Wiltshire, lives with the extremely rare muscle-wasting condition LMNA Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. This means she experiences pain and discomfort every single day and she is unlikely to live past 20 years old.
Carmela has raised more than a huge £400,000 for MDUK over the years, winning her the Sun’s National Young Hero award 2021. She has even been featured on the One Show, where she watched her hero, Wonder Woman actor Gal Gadot, praising her amazing efforts. Prince William and David Beckham have also congratulated Carmela for her incredible fundraising feats.
She and her family are now hoping to raise a further £5000 through the ‘Wonder Wheels’ event to help fund support for those, like Carmela, living with progressive muscle-wasting conditions, as well as to fund medical research to help find treatments – and ultimately a cure.
Lucy, Carmela’s mum, said: “Carmela would love to see her event filled with lots of local cycling enthusiasts willing to help and show their support for her, so please join us! Whilst Carmela may have weak muscles on the outside, her inner strength is unstoppable and her determination to live life to the full makes us all strong.”
“A sponsored solidarity Wonder Wheels ride is a great way to help us reach our target £5k. You can either do 66 miles or 6.6 miles, on a bike or exercise bike, anywhere you’d like at any time between 1 and 31 August.”
While her mum and family cycle the whole route, Carmela will join the ride for the last mile and will lead the cyclists across the finish line. She’ll be riding a specially adapted recliner bike that supports her body weight and has side handles to make steering easier for her weak arms. She has lost further muscle in the last two years, so adaptions like this are crucial for her.
Current studies that MDUK is co-funding include research into Carmela's condition, LMNA Congenital muscular dystrophy, at the Myology Institute in Paris.
“Muscular Dystrophy UK has been our safety net, providing moral support, and most importantly, hope for the future. Hope that eventually, through research, the world will have a cure so that other children's lives aren't cut tragically short by this condition.” said Lucy.
Charles Horton, Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Regional Development Manager for Wales, the South West and the West Midlands, said: “We are so honoured that Carmela is leading another fantastic fundraiser for MDUK. She is an inspiration to us all. Not only has she raised more than £400,000 to help the UK’s 110,000 people living with a muscle-wasting condition, she has helped so many children and adults around the world through raising awareness, taking part in charity events and leading campaigns. And all this despite what she is dealing with on a daily basis.
“We will be cheering her on 1 August – and urge everyone to get involved, whether it’s taking on the Wonder Wheels cycling challenge or sponsoring Carmela.”
As Carmela’s body progressively weakens, her parents are hoping this event becomes a yearly legacy in honour of Carmela for all that she does to help others in the same situation.
Lucy added: “We are delighted that some local businesses on the route are now sponsoring the event – so a big thank you to Superior Plants in Market Lavington, The Black Swan in Devizes, CW Logistics Wiltshire Couriers and The Churchill Arms in West Lavington.”
“We’d gladly welcome more support along the route, whether you’re a business or would like to just come along and cheer us on! Any photos you snap would be welcome too! Please tag and share on Facebook @Carmela’s Stand Up To Muscular Dystrophy or Instagram @Cure4Carmela.”
The cycle route leaves The Churchills Arms in West Lavington at 08.00 heading towards Tilshead, Shrewton, Durrington, Tidworth, up towards Marlborough onto Devizes and back to West Lavington. It will take 7-8 hours.
To show your support and sponsor Carmela – or to take part in the solidarity cycle ride, visit her webpage www.carmelasstanduptomusculardystrophy.co.uk