Matt Tunaley, 59, is aiming to play 54 holes in one day around South Kyme Golf Club, where he is a member,
He explained: “I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease about nine months after retiring from a life in the RAF.
“I’ve always been fit and active and as a flyer I was gutted to find out that I had Parkinson’s.
“For me, I struggle with a tremor on my right side. Luckily the disease has left my left side so far unaffected so I am learning to develop the dexterity of my left side. I also struggle with muscle cramps and stiffness which is extremely tiring and keeps me awake at night.
“To combat this I have to keep active and try and fight the condition. My physician is positive and has prescribed some effective medication but each drug is a trial to get levels right.”
He went on: “Golf gives me a brilliant combination of exercise and co-ordination that helps keep me in shape. I’m very fortunate to be able to play golf and have a great group of friends who have always been extremely supportive and sympathetic to my condition.”
He says: “It is my golf that has allowed me to contribute to the greater cause of Parkinson’s sufferers.”
He plays twice a week but will not be training for the challenge to avoid wearing himself out. Without medication his tremor is quite noticeable and the drugs add to his fatigue.
“I only hope I have the stamina to complete this challenge and raise the awareness as well as the money to help Parkinson’s UK to help those less fortunate than myself. I’m assured that we are not far away from developing treatment that will help thousands of sufferers so anything I can do while I’m able has got to be worth the effort.“
There are going to be charity walks in aid of Parkinson’s UK at the weekend, but as none were taking place in this area, Matt decided to create his own challenge.
He has already raised £1,842 in donations - well above his initial goal of £1,000. You can donate at: http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matt-tunaley
As well as the money, he insists it is also about raising awareness about Parkinson’s. So many of the symptoms are invisible - other than if someone has a noticeable tremor - so it is a disease that people do not notice. Equally, if people do notice “odd” behaviour, such as stiffness of movement, “freezing” or shaking, they often misjudge the reason - a common misconception is that people displaying such behaviours are drunk, when actually there is nothing they can do about it and it is very distressing. So he believes anything that can be done to help wider understanding of what Parkinsons is and the consequences of it is hugely helpful.
Matt is doing the challenge on Monday, September 27. Teeing off at 7am he hopes to complete the last hole by 6.30pm, picking up refreshment along the way. The golf club have been very supportive and Matt is bowled over by the strength and breadth of support he has been receiving. Card Factory in Sleaford has offered to fill all their promotional balloons with helium for free. One golf club member is decorating a buggy with balloons and will ride along cheering him on.
Wife Janis adds: “He is going to try and play proper golf and keep it as straight as possible.”