A daredevil West London woman is planning to star-jump her way up Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of cancer prevention.
Desire Nel, 31, aims to perform a series of leaps as she hikes up the 5,895m (19,341ft) peak – Africa’s highest – to raise funds for World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).
Her strange obsession with star-jumps began when she started taking photos of herself performing the acrobatic moves at various holiday spots around the world.
She said: “It started as something on Facebook – I’d take a star-jump picture wherever I went and now people expect it. It makes me happy, jumping for joy.”
Desire, of Charles Road, Ealing, added: “I’ve never done anything like this before – it’s a new challenge for me. But I’ve got the utmost belief in myself and in my head I’ve already climbed the mountain.
“I think it’s going to be one of the most difficult things I’ve done but one of the most rewarding too. I love overcoming barriers and achieving something new and this is going to be right up there.”
Pretoria-born Desire, who has lived in the UK for six years, was moved to take up the challenge on behalf of WCRF after a close friend was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
She said: “He’s very special to me and is my inspiration for doing this. He’s done so much good in the world and always puts others before himself. It’s amazing how he’s so positive about something so scary.
“Also my grandmother died of bladder cancer four years ago and my husband Laurie-Shaun’s mother died from breast cancer when he was very young.”
She hopes to raise at least £3,500 and has already secured nearly £2,000 sponsorship, including £1,000 from employers Pacific Institute, based in Notting Hill.
Her training schedule will see her build up her stamina through a series of aerobic and walking exercises at the gym and in the countryside before she tackles the world’s fourth tallest mountain in October.
During the seven-day trek Desire faces temperatures of -20C in the evening as well as the danger of altitude sickness. The final day of climbing is particularly daunting as it involves a 17-hour push to the summit.
Sian Fraser, Events Fundraiser at WCRF, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Desire for taking up this challenge to raise funds for us and we wish her good luck with it. The money she raises will go towards our research and education programmes into the link between lifestyle and cancer.
“Scientists estimate that about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented by following a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight and it’s thanks to supporters like Desire that we can continue to get this positive message out to the public.”
To sponsor Desire and help WCRF visit www.wcrf-uk.org/sponsor and click on Challenge Events.
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