Pride of Britain winner who has raised £1million by running more than 12,000 miles after being told he would never walk says his childhood in hospital made him feel ‘worthless’ – but he knew there was ‘more to life’
- Jamie McDonald, 35, from Gloucester, was born with a rare spinal condition
- Condition saw him spending the first nine years of his life in and out of hospital
- He has since run more than 12,000 miles, cycled over 14,000 miles for charity
- His second book, Adventureman: Running America, is being released tomorrow
A Pride of Britain winner who has raised more than £1million for charity has revealed how spending his childhood in and out of hospital made him feel ‘worthless’.
Jamie McDonald, 35, from Gloucester, was born with syringomyelia, a rare spinal condition which meant the first nine years of his life involved constant medical treatment.
After being told he may never walk again, Jamie slowly became more active throughout his childhood, and has since run more than 12,000 miles, cycled over 14,000 miles to raise money.
Appearing on Lorraine today, the father said that in the years after his symptoms eased, he had a ‘feeling that there must be more to life’ and decided to dedicate his life fundraising for children’s hospitals.
Jamie McDonald, 35, from Gloucester, was born with syringomyelia, a rare spinal condition which saw him spending the first nine years of his life in and out of hospital. He is pictured right as a child in hospital
Appearing on Lorraine today, the father said that in the years after his symptoms eased, he had a ‘feeling that there must be more to life’ and decided to dedicate his life fundraising for children’s hospitals
‘Spending most of your childhood in and out of hospital left me feeling quite worthless, really,’ said Jamie. ‘I think as I got my health again I thought there must be more to life as I got better.’
Jamie’s condition, paired with a weak immune system and epilepsy, meant that as a child, his health was so poor that his family feared he might lose his mobility altogether.
But at age nine his symptoms eased, allowing him to slowly become more active. Shaped by his experiences, since then he has dedicated his life to raising money to help other sick children.
‘Instead of buying a house, I had saved £20,000 to put a deposit on, I went back to the children’s hospital with this feeling that there must be more to life.’
Dressed as his alter-ego Adventureman in March 2019, Jamie completed yet another solo 5,500 mile cross country spanning run across America and penned a book about his experiences
Jamie recently became a dad to eight-month-old daughter Storm, who he shares with partner Anna McNuff (pictured)
He purchased a £50 bike from an advert in his local newspaper and underwent his first fundraising mission, cycling from Bangkok to his hometown in Gloucester.
Just two days after he finished the journey back from Bangkok; Jamie made the decision to attempt the world static non-stop cycling record, and reached his goal in 268 hours.
In February 2014, Jamie became the first person in history to run the 5,000 miles across Canada without the aid of a support crew.
Dressed as his alter-ego Adventureman in March 2019, Jamie completed yet another solo 5,500 mile cross country spanning run across America.
The rare condition that could destroy your spinal cord: What is syringomyelia?
Syringomyelia is a disorder in which a cyst forms within the spinal cord.
This cyst, called a syrinx, expands and elongates over time, destroying a portion of the spinal cord from its centre and expanding outward.
As a syrinx widens, it compresses and injures nerve fibres that carry information from the brain to the extremities.
Damage to the spinal cord often leads to progressive weakness in the arms and legs, stiffness in the back, shoulders, arms, or legs, and chronic, severe pain.
Other symptoms may include headaches, a loss of the ability to feel extremes of hot or cold (especially in the hands), and loss of bladder and other functions.
Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
During his run across the US, Jamie raised money for hospitals in each state he visited, as well as the registered charity he co-founded and volunteers his time for – Superhero Foundation.
It grants money to families for treatment they might not otherwise be able to have, having given more than £300,000 out to children in need so far.
Speaking of his latest fundraising endeavour, Jamie said that while it was a ‘solo mission’ he ‘couldn’t do it without help of others.’
The former tennis coach has now written a book, Running America, about his 5,500-mile, 210-marathon coast-to-coast run across the US, which will be released tomorrow.
He became emotional as he recalled a nurse who had cared for him as a child visiting him at an event marking the launch of his first book in 2017.
‘I remember at my last book launch with my first book, said Jamie. ‘A nurse showed up and grabbed me by my shoulders and she must have been in her 70s and she looked at me and said, “You don’t remember me do you”.
‘I had this overwhelming flood of warmth that this nurse was by my bedside throughout my childhood’.
Jamie recently became a dad to eight-month-old daughter Storm, who he shares with partner Anna McNuff.
The pair are the perfect match, with fearless explorer Anna having run swum and cycled over 20,000 miles across the globe.
Anna, who has cycled through every US state and ran the length of New Zealand, recently completed 100 marathons barefoot in a bid to show women ‘what they are really capable of’.
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