We catch up with fundraiser 'The North Pole Mama' Camila Benouali
We recently heard about Camila Benouali's upcoming charity trek to the North Pole, to raise much needed funds for research charity Action Medical Research and we were blown away. It's a huge challenge. We caught up with Camila to find out more...
Hi Camila, we were so impressed when we read that you are planning to ski to the North Pole in April 2017. Why did you decide to take on such an amazing challenge?
Thank you! I read a book by Phillip Pullman when I was 11 called "The Northern Lights." In it a young orphaned girl called Lyra goes on these amazing adventures with a polar bear in Svalbard and saves the world. Since the age of 11 I have wanted to replicate her adventures.
A friend of mine challenged me to take on my lifelong dream after I spoke to him about feeling that I had very few goals and hobbies that were purely for me. I have two young children and a demanding job as a paediatrician and I wanted to re-discover the love of being outdoors and I thought the best way of doing that was to go for the biggest challenge I could think of.
We saw that the challenge will involve 8 to 10 hours of skiing a day while pulling a 45kg sled for 2 weeks. What have you been doing to prepare for this?
Initially I was doing anything I could to regain some fitness. When I decided to ski to the North Pole my youngest was only 12 months old so I had a way to go. Now my training is a little more structured towards the expedition. I am doing strength training for my legs and back and doing a lot of cardio to improve my endurance. The most important thing now though is pulling a tyre which is hooked up to a harness I wear to simulate pulling my sled. It makes for some great conversation when I’m out and about!
You're fundraising for Action Medical Research, please can you tell us a little bit more about them?
They are a pretty unique and absolutely crucial charity. The charity was founded in 1952 by Duncan Guthrie in his quest to find a cure for polio, a condition that affected the lives of many thousands of children including his own daughter, Janet. The charity helped fund the development of the polio vaccine and that condition has now been eradicated in the UK. Since then they have been funding research into prematurity, childhood diseases and childhood prematurity. They are absolutely crucial in order to help us make progress in how we look after our most precious family members.
What are you most looking forward to about the challenge?
There are so many things I am looking forward to! The whole thing gets me motivated every time I think about it. The physical challenge is a real driving force for me but I also love the expedition lifestyle so I am looking forward to that. Mostly I just can’t wait to see that out of this world landscape and travel amongst it. It is so unique - I can’t wait to just marvel at it.
As well as donating money via your sponsorship page, how else can people support Action Medical Research?
There are a huge number of options for how to support the charity. You can donate on their website, at the moment you can buy your Christmas cards there! They also have various walking, cycling and hiking challenges you can take part in. They have annual fundraising dinners too, like the one with Davina McCall every November if you prefer something less physical!
We wish Camila best of luck in her challenge, and we can't wait to hear all about it!