Expat swimmer conquers Dubai’s World for charity

Published:  22 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Dubai, Money
British expat Kate Willoughby triumphed over a 25km, 11-hour sponsored swim around Dubai’s The World island development to raise money for and awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The disease attacks millions of children, one of whom is Kate’s nephew, Harrison, diagnosed at the age of four as suffering from the fatal muscle disorder. Her triumphant swim was aimed at raising world awareness of the comparatively rare disease as well as to boost the fund set up by Harrison’s family to pay for his ongoing treatment.

Six-year-old Harrison was there at the finish line on the beach at California Island, encouraging his exhausted aunt with his cheers. Once she’d clambered ashore, everyone burst into tears of joy and Harrison and his brother William gave her specially-struck medals to commemorate the event.

Speaking to Gulf News, Kate described her swim, saying it began at 06:30 and got worse by every kilometre, with winds of up to 19 knots and jelly fish stinging her every chance they got. She swam from California Island anti-clockwise, making a complete circle around the breakwaters and only stopping every kilometre to gulp juice or water from a boat following her.

Friends on the boat and medical teams in kayaks urged her on, and the feat was followed on Facebook, with a screen held up so that she could see the inspiring messages. Harrison’s father, after the swim was completed, said everyone was incredibly proud of Kate, adding that her achievement has pushed everyone involved to do more to create awareness of the disease.

According to Kate, at present Harrison is a happy, seemingly healthy little boy, but by his 12th birthday he will be in a wheelchair with a life expectancy of just eight more years. Almost all Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy sufferers die at the age of 20 or earlier.
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