Michaela Hollywood is a 25 year old whirlwind. She has a first class degree and is finishing her masters. She writes beautifully, creates podcasts, connects people wonderfully on social media, and is a huge music fan. Also, pizza. She can do anything, and gather the support of politicians and celebrities to do it. She has won all sorts of awards, had articles published the Guardian, the BBC and others, and, somewhat less prestigiously, I’ve re-blogged several of her posts. She’s fun loving, highly motivated and a bit of a medical miracle.
Michaela lives with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a type of Muscular Dystrophy. Her elder sister, Martina, had the same condition and, I gather, the same sense of fun and determination. Martina died when she was 14. Many children born with SMA do not live even that long.
Michaela does nothing by halves- a hospital stay that lasts months could be down to previously unknown in humans bacteria, a chest infection causes all the concern, and the expertise of her family has saved her life. So when she decided to do a thing, some sort of a thing, to raise awareness of Muscular Dystrophy, and funds for the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, I didn’t really expect the thing to be a raffle or a cake sale. Nowhere near dramatic enough.
Instead, she did a marathon. 26.2 miles round the streets of Belfast yesterday, surrounded by friends and family- a blur of orange. The McSpecs planned on joining in for part of the journey, so we walked uphill to meet her. No sign. We loitered a while and then decided to walk the route anyway- #MovingaMileforMichaela if not actually with her. We pottered along, chatting and exploring, noticing those surrounding that we normally drive past, oblivious. Then SpursFan and Girl2 took off, running. Running towards a van, a crowd and a motorised wheelchair. Michaela was so far ahead of schedule, they’d managed a pit stop for tea.
Well, you know I don’t run. I’d been walking and was ready for bed, but added an inch to my step. Whoosh! No, it wasn’t enough. Who knew a motorised wheelchair could move so fast uphill? I only caught up with her when the police escort paused for complex right turn. A quick hug, a photo, and a handover of the collection bucket I’d acquired along the way, and they were gone again. Up another hill, in the rain, determined to complete the task.
I got home, hobbled up the stairs and slept for hours. Eventually, girls came in to wake me up with a colourful shopping list, giggles and squabbles. As is the norm, many pics were taken. (This used to baffle me, but now I quite like the recording of the ordinary little moments of togetherness.)
Today, as I read the local press on Michaela’s marathon, I was struck by something I suppose I must have known, but never realised. Michaela has power only in one hand.