Selfless duo Vicky Knight and Peter Burns organised and took part in the challenge last September alongside a team of 12, who each have a connection to Parkinson’s, by swimming from Gosport to Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.
The team were accompanied by safety support kayaks who made sure every person completed the entire 5,000 metre crossing on September 5.
Now both Vicky, 39, and Peter, 65, have been recognised as the 2021 Fundraisers of the Year by Cure Parkinson’s in an announcement made on April 11 - World Parkinson’s Day.
Vicky said: ‘After a lot of organising and delays it was incredible to see a vision become a reality. As a neuro-physiotherapist with a specific interest in Parkinson’s I wanted those with Parkinson’s to have the opportunity to show others what can be achieved when living with this condition.
‘The three swimmers with Parkinson’s showed just that and I was so proud of them. As well as raising an amazing amount of money we also created a team and community which we hope will continue to grow.’
Named the Positively Parkinson’s Solent Swim Challenge, the fundraising effort was launched two years ago by Vicky and Peter, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s himself in 2017.
As part of ti the pair also encouraged others to get involved and take on a similar challenge in their local swimming pools, where the 5,000m could be completed over four months. Participants of this added to the main fundraising page, where the total now stands at an impressive £41,797.
Peter, from Littlehampton in West Sussex, added: ‘All the swimmers bonded into a great team and the sheer emotion of arriving on the beach was quite remarkable. The amount we’ve raised has gone beyond our wildest expectations.
‘We’ve been astounded by people’s generosity, kindness and empathy, and many people have shared their own personal story of their connection to Parkinson’s when they have donated.’
Their challenge came as part of a wider Positively Parkinson’s initiative from Cure Parkinson’s, which aims to help people with Parkinson’s adjust to life after their diagnosis.