A daredevil fundraiser is leaping from the sky in memory of her grandfather.
Samantha Sanderson, from Millfield, Sunderland, is taking on a skydive tomorrow to raise cash for the Multiple System Strophy (MSA) Trust.
The 23-year-old is braving the challenge in memory of her beloved grandad Henry Armstrong, who died at the age of 68 in April from the rare brain disease.
She said: “My grandad was originally diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease only to be re-diagnosed with MSA a few years later.
“What was really shocking was that the medical staff who helped care for my grandad had no idea what MSA was. It’s really important to raise awareness about this devastating condition.
“I also want to raise funds for the MSA Trust, who support people affected by MSA. They provide all their services, including MSA nurse specialists, free of charge.”
My grandad would be petrified for me and he’d be telling me not to do it but that he’s proud of me.Samantha Sanderson
MSA is a neurodegenerative disease leading to premature death. It causes brain cells to shrink resulting in problems with balance, movement and functions like blood pressure control, swallowing and speech.
Some people with MSA say it feels like the disease traps them in their own bodies. There is no known cause or cure for MSA, which strikes at random, usually when people are in their late 50s.
The later stages of MSA can be extremely challenging and people often need around-the-clock care.
Samantha, an engineering support administrator for a maintenance company, said: “I’m absolutely petrified about the skydive, I’ve never done anything like this before.
“I’ve done other things for charity alongside other people, but this is the first big thing I’ve done on my own.
“When my grandad got taken into hospital, the staff knew very little about his condition and I want to do everything I can to raise awareness of it and help other people going through it.
“My grandad would be petrified for me and he’d be telling me not to do it but that he’s proud of me.
“I’ve raised about £625 so far and want to raise as much as I can to help.”
Joan Smith, head of fundraising at the MSA Trust, added: “We’re so impressed with Samantha’s decision to do a skydive to raise funds for us.
“The Trust relies entirely on voluntary donations and without people like Samantha, we would be unable to continue our work of supporting all people affected by MSA. We’re truly in their debt.”
To sponsor Samantha, go to www.justgiving.com/samantha-sanderson3/