LEONA Carson may have fallen in love with the rugged beauty of the Everest mountains – but even that pales in comparison to the passion that she feels towards the Omagh Riding for Disabled Association.
That is why the Omagh woman has set herself perhaps her most difficult fundraising task to date in aid of the local charity, of which she is an avid volunteer: A trek to Everest Base Camp this April.
At an altitude of more than 5,000 metres, the hike up the often wild and unpredictable terrain will be no mean feat, but the 39-year-old says the fundraiser is the least she can do for the organisation, which enables people with disabilities to ride to benefit their health and well-being.
Leona, who will be flying out to Nepal on April 4 to begin her hike – a day after her 40th birthday – said that she will have ‘neigh’ regrets about tackling the highest mountain in the world.
“Everest Base Camp has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember,” Leona recounted. “I came across the trek on Facebook last year, offered at a price that I could afford, and I told myself, ‘If I don’t purchase this now, I’m never going to do it’, so I booked it there and then.”
Now steadfastly training for the task up ahead, Leona has been spending her free time running, boxing, lifting weights, attending the gym and hiking local mountains – as well as volunteering for the Omagh RDA.
“I love the Omagh RDA, and have been a volunteer with the charity for 10 years,” Leona said. “I began there many moons ago as my kids had started school, and I was at a loose end. As the years have gone on, I’ve fallen in love with the charity.
“I get so much more out of it than I put in, and just seeing the difference that it makes in people’s lives is fantastic.
“The trek to Everest Base Camp is going to be really, really tough, but it’ll also be an amazing cultural
experience, and the money raised will help bring so much joy to the Omagh RDA.”
• To help fundraise ahead of her hike, Leona will be hosting her very own ‘Omagh RDA Does a Night At The Races’ event on November 22 at the Weigh Inn, Bar at 8.30pm. For more information, updates, and to find out how to donate to Leona’s cause, follow her Facebook page, ‘Leona’s Trek to Everest Basecamp’.