Leeds Rhinos Women’s second-rower Aimee Staveley is putting her lockdown time to good use by raising money for a cause close to her heart.
Having been furloughed from her job as an assistant manager at a branch of Specsavers, Staveley has vowed to run a total of 100K throughout May to raise money for the charity Versus Arthritis.
Having suffered from the autoimmune disease herself for almost nine years, Staveley is hoping that her fundraising efforts can help raise awareness for the condition that affects so many lives every day.
“This lockdown has given me chance to work on myself and my fitness, and I have really loved my running during all this,” Staveley told totalrl.com
“I’d seen other people doing 50k or 60k challenges and I just decided to round that up and set myself a decent challenge.
“I won’t be incorporating what I do as part of training with the Rhinos, so the 100k will be on top of what I do for that.
“We are doing three Zoom sessions a week with the Rhinos and if I feel ok after them I’ll try to do a 5k run, but on my rest days, I’ll get in a 10k. So I’m am just seeing how I feel each day as to how I break it all up.
“I live in Bramley, and the canal is only about 2k from where I live. It means I can run through Fall Woods, down to the canal and then along in the direction of Greengates, and then back or sometimes run back along the road.
“I have got Psoriatic Arthritis and was diagnosed when I was 22.
“It started in my feet and I really didn’t know what it was. It got so bad I could barely walk and when I first woke up I had to crawl to the bathroom. The pain was it was excruciating.
“But I am on medication now – a methotrexate – a type of chemotherapy drug that helps to suppress the immune system and that has helped regulate it, and for four or five years now It has been fairly stable.
“I will never forget how I felt when I was first diagnosed and now I appreciate just being able to walk.
“Not many people really know about arthritis, or that can affect younger people as well I just want to help to raise awareness. It happens to people of all ages and I’m sure most people out there will probably know someone who suffers with it.
“Even though it’s a widespread disease, I don’t think people realise it can be as tough physiologically as it is physically. You do get the bad days when you’re in so much pain, but the fatigue you can get with it as well is sometimes even worse than the pain. As a sufferer, I do get the down days, but I know I have got to keep pushing through.
“Because of my medication I am classed as high risk so I’ll probably be one of the last people to go back to work, so this challenge has done me the world of good. Rather than just sitting in and not doing much, I am getting out and being active so it keeping me occupied and giving me something to do.”
Before joining her hometown club Leeds at the start of the 2018 season, Staveley was part of the all-conquering Bradford Bulls side of 2017. She has also represented England Students in the past, so it’s clear to see she has never allowed her arthritis to stop her from playing the game she loves.
“Hopefully me doing this can show others, who find themselves in the situation I was in at 22, that even if have this if you manage it properly can live a normal and active life,” added Staveley.
“When I first started with it, I was still trying to playing at Stanningley and as soon as the consultant told me what it was I thought that was it.
“All I ever imaged about it was people with disfigured joints and not really able to move. That’s where I was, but thankfully I didn’t have the disfigured joints because we had caught it early.
“I thought my rugby over and that I was just going to have to concentrate on living a healthy life, while just able to do the basics.
“But I’m on the drugs now and the hospital is so pleased with how well I have taken to them. They don’t have a lot of success stories, but given I am playing a high contact sport, I guess you can call me that.
“It is controlled quite well at the moment, but do have relapses now and then and there our bouts where it comes back. But I just have to look after myself in those periods and listen to my body.
“Sometimes, if I can feel it coming on, I do get a bit of vengeance against it and think, “you’re not having me today” and I lift heavier weights than normal or do run a bit further to prove to myself that it is going to pass and it’s not going to take over my life.
“I’m a bit stubborn like that, and I’m not going to let it beat me.”
To donate to Aimee’s fundraising efforts visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/aimee-staveley?fbclid=IwAR222QgvNPvDU2ymnBSOXJ4B8aVzSusLUWUGG3XMiRNjq5sx51wwo0sTbt0