Melody Campbell describes herself as “just your average teenager”.
But not too many 15-year-olds would think to take on the challenge of conquering Mount Kosciuszko.
That is exactly what the confident and personable Warners Bay High School student will do on February 18, when she takes part in the fourth annual Krazy Kosci Klimb for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
It means trekking from Charlotte Pass to the top of summit, a return trip of 18.4 kilometres.
Melody, from Eleebana, is “pumped” but knows it will be no mean feat to complete the distance as the terrain will be varied and uneven.
She was born with spastic diplegia, a form of Cerebral Palsy, that affects the muscles of her calves especially. The more fatigued Melody’s muscles get, the harder the trek will become.
“I’ve actually heard that going down the hill will be a lot harder, particularly on kids with CP because balance and coordination are two bigs things that CPs are affected by,” said Melody’s mum Cath Bailey, who will accompany Melody on the climb.
“You’re fighting gravity [going downhill] and it’s trying to pull you over and kids with CP fall over a lot. They’re fighting against gravity to try to hold themselves upright.”
The Krazy Kosci Klimb is open to people from the age of 12 living with CP or another disability.
Melody will be one of 20 lead participants, who all have a support crew.
Her team consists of her mum, uncle Peter Bailey, cousins Harrison Bailey and Emily Hawkins and physiotherapist Tammy Wolfenden.
Wolfenden suggested the climb to Melody as a way to increase the strength in her legs and the teenager was keen to take on the challenge.
“The thing about CP is it can’t get any better but it can’t get any worse really,” Melody said.
“But if you don’t keep up with the stretching and therapy and the orthotic, botox and casting, your muscles will deteriorate.”
The teenager has been training since November and feels physically prepared.
To stand at the top of the mountain with everyone else, to see those 200 people at the end would be just amazing.
It could be a little harder to prepare for what she expects will be an emotional journey. Some participants will be in wheelchairs, being pushed and pulled to the summit.
“I just felt like it would be an awesome experience to conquer, and particularly with people who would know what it’s like to be me, or people who wouldn’t know what it’s like to be me but would know what it’s like to be worse than me,” Melody said.
“To stand at the top of the mountain with everyone else, to see those 200 people at the end would be just amazing.”
Team Melody has already raised over $12,500 for people with CP in the Hunter region to help with therapies.
But she was also keen to raise awareness of CP, which, according to the CPA is the most common physical disability in childhood.
Having CP stops Melody from doing some things but her philosophy is “everyone’s different and has their own quirks”.
“When Mel got to about the age of 10 or 11 and realised she was never going to be able to ride a bike without training wheels, she said, ‘I don’t want to ride a bike, I’m too old for training wheels’,” her mum recalled.
“I said why don’t we sell the bike and buy something else with the money because you’re just going to have to come to terms with things in life, that there’s just going to be things that you just can’t do. And she said, ‘Like you with cooking’.”
This same attitude is sure to help Melody conquer many more mountains in life.
Support Melody’s cause at: https://krazykosciklimb2017.everydayhero.com/au/team-melody.