Leading Muscular Dystrophy charity gives petrol heads a ‘driving experience of a lifetime’ as it continues its commitment to delivering life-changing wish-fulfilment experiences to children and young adults
The Muscle Help Foundation (MHF), a charity delivering highly personalised, transformational experiences in the UK for children and young people with the muscle wasting disease Muscular Dystrophy (MD), has given ten lucky beneficiaries an experience of a lifetime at a unique Porsche driving experience at Silverstone, the home of British motorsport.
After three very long and challenging years due to the pandemic, the charity’s signature Porsche Muscle Dreams Driving Experience finally made its comeback to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this flagship event. This is one of many wish-fulfilment events the charity delivers to young people living with MD as it continues its commitment to delivering a total of 657 experiences – that is one life-changing experience for every muscle in the human body. It has so far delivered 436 with 221 to go and needs to raise a further £100k to achieve its ultimate goal of 657.
Last month ten beneficiaries living with MD took to the tracks in a Porsche 911 at Silverstone to experience the thrill of a ride around the iconic Grand Prix Circuit as well as Porsche’s own racetrack of nearly 5km, including their handling circuit, the straights, the kick plate and the ice hill.
Michael McGrath, CEO of the Muscle Help Foundation charity, says: “Seeing the happiness on everyone’s faces as they zoomed around the track was just priceless. It’s why we do what we do. For every beneficiary and their family this is about empowerment, increasing confidence, bringing vulnerable families together and ultimately creating cherished memories that last a lifetime.
“I know that so many families are desperately worried about the increasing costs of living, the energy crisis and their ability to pay bills as well as ongoing inflationary pressures, meaning there’s even more uncertainty in addition to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m really concerned that many of our already very vulnerable families will face additional social isolation, more stress, more financial pressures, not least diminishing mental health and emotional wellbeing, more so now than ever before. Being able to offer some temporary respite from those day-to-day worries through our transformational work and moments-in-time like the charity’s unique Porsche programme, has never been more important.”
What some of the beneficiaries and their families said:
Toni Charlick from Gravesend, Kent, mother to Adam (17) who took part in the driving experience, says: “Adam has always loved cars, it is his biggest passion so to have this opportunity was amazing. Families living with MD have to miss out on so many things because of accessibility etc so the work of the Muscle Help Foundation is incredibly important to us and all families living with MD. The event was fantastic. Adam was smiling from ear to ear the whole day. Adam is keen to pursue a career in car engineering and design and this has inspired him to further pursue that dream. This experience has had a hugely positive impact upon his mental health and how he views life.”
Adam says: “My ultimate dream is to work with cars and I’m currently studying for my BTEC engineering at sixth form so I can achieve this. I just love being in or around cars, especially fast ones. I am determined not to let Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy stop me achieving my dreams.”
Another family that took part in the driving experience are from Ukraine. They are currently living in the UK with a sponsor family after fleeing the country due to the war.
Marharyta Yashchenko, is mother to Danyil (15) who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. She says: “It’s been a difficult time for us having relocated here this year due to the war so when we got this opportunity, we were so excited and emotional. My son is very fond of cars, as are many boys. Being in a fast car allowed him to realise his dreams.
“Very often, people with disabilities are embarrassed about their condition and lead a secluded lifestyle. This usually leads to disease progression and physical deterioration. Such support like this, from charities like The Muscle Help Foundation, provide an opportunity for people with Duchenne to be themselves, to be in society, to get new acquaintances, expand their horizons, and get new experiences. In Danyil’s words he said, ‘the Porsche is a machine for the soul’.”
Jake Hudson (28) from Crewe, Cheshire, who also participated in the event said: “This opportunity was really special to me and my family as we have always loved cars. To actually be in a Porsche is something of a dream – one that I never thought was possible. Having access to wish-fulfilment experiences like this is very important, in my opinion – it can be difficult to accept MD and it can be all too easy to believe an active life is not possible – but that’s not the case. This experience has definitely enhanced my self-belief, confidence, and can-do attitude.
“Overall, it was just awesome. The adrenaline was pumping and as we went faster, my smile got bigger. It was emotional too though – knowing this is a once in a lifetime moment which I will cherish forever. My disability was left at the front door – the whole experience empowers you to just be yourself. “
Vanessa Hagg from Norfolk, mum to Will (13) says of the experience: “Will wants to go again; it has ignited his passion for cars even further and he’s determined he will drive his own car one day. He’s also asked if I can buy a convertible car so I can take him for drives along the coast… it will not be a Porsche though!”
The event was supported by the charity’s fantastic partners – the Porsche Experience Centre and Whittlebury Park, and takes place at Silverstone, the home of British motorsport.
Gill Kerr, Manager, Porsche Experience Centre Silverstone said: “Sharing the excitement of Porsche is core to what we do at the Porsche Experience Centre Silverstone. But sharing that excitement with the Muscle Warriors and their families is particularly special. 2022 marked the 10th anniversary of Porsche’s partnership with Muscle Dreams and we’re delighted to have helped realise the dreams of the very deserving beneficiaries over those 10 years in support of this transformational charity.”
Charles Sargeant, Managing Director at Whittlebury Park said: “The Muscle Help Foundation is a fantastic charity, and we were delighted to welcome the Muscle Warriors back to Whittlebury Park to help fulfil some of their wishes. Being a car enthusiast myself, nothing makes me happier than seeing the enjoyment we are able to give to others by sharing our passion.”
David Munson, General Manager at Whittlebury Park added: “It was amazing for us to welcome back the Muscle Help Foundation for their 10th Anniversary of the Porsche programme at Whittlebury Park this year. Having seen what the charity has accomplished in the last decade, making the dreams of so many young people come true, it really is a delight to continue to be a partner with an amazing charity and for such a fantastic event. Seeing the wide smiles on the faces of the 10 beneficiaries as they returned from Silverstone this year was truly wonderful and I am sure we will see many more in the future on the journey to achieving the 657 experiences.”
About The Muscle Help Foundation
The Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) organises and facilitates highly personalised events, experiences, and activities, which they refer to as Muscle Dreams, for young people with Muscular Dystrophy or related muscle-wasting conditions and their families. Uplifting, joyful and often cathartic in nature, MHF’s academically validated work and impact is rooted in the idea that well executed, shared experiences can be powerfully transformative in nature.
Thanks to Muscular Dystrophy UK, new research reveals that approximately 110,000 people (babies, children and adults) in the UK live with muscle-wasting conditions. Muscular Dystrophy is a progressive condition that gets worse over time. It is the single biggest genetic killer of children in the world today. It robs sufferers of their mobility, their independence and finally for those with the most severe type (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD), their lives. Although there is some excellent research going on around the world, there is still currently no known treatment.
The Power of 657:
The MHF charity is running a national campaign called The Power of 657 and its mission is simple – to deliver 657 transformational wish-fulfilment experiences for children, young people and their families with Muscular Dystrophy in the UK, that’s one life-changing experience for every muscle in the human body.
For the charity’s beneficiaries, every Muscle Dream experience is an opportunity to not only realise their potential but also become a Muscle Warrior and, by default, join the charity’s tribal community. For their family and friends, each one opens up a support network of like-minded individuals. To date, the charity has delivered 436 Muscle Dream interventions with 221 to go to reach the overall target of 657.
2023 is MHF’s 20th Anniversary:
Next year, 2023, will see the charity reach its 20th anniversary – since 2003, it has touched the lives of 1000s of people across the UK living with Muscular Dystrophy, from families and local communities to schools and businesses – its impact and reach continues to grow.
For MHF to continue its vital work and push on with its 657 mission, the charity desperately needs support.