Dan Jenkins didn’t manage to master riding the unicycle in the 32 years since he was given it for his 18th birthday.
For that time it lay gathering dust in his garage, making an occasional appearance each decade when the furthest he managed to pedal was 70 yards.
But the charity boss felt it was exactly the right vehicle for his drive to join a fundraising effort which saw him complete the equivalent of a marathon on one wheel, inspired by the people with long-term conditions he deals with each day.
The charity, which uses oxygen therapy and other treatments to help people with a variety of conditions including multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s and diabetes, has had to delay its re-opening due to the flood which caused the ceiling in the office and kitchen to collapse and left the floor ruined.
As people rallied around offering help, they were asked to sign up for Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk charity event from April 23-25 to raise vital funds.
Mr Jenkins, who raised £1,049 from his Wobbly Marathon challenge, was one of 28 Kiltwalkers who raised a total of £19,089 for the charity. Funds sent to organisers by midnight on Monday qualify for a 50% top-up from The Hunter Foundation, bringing the total to over £28,000.
He said: “I get motivated if I do something a bit different. I’m not really a runner or a distance cyclist, so quite rashly decided to tackle a marathon distance on the unicycle.
“When I was 17 I thought it would be cool to learn to ride a unicycle and my grandparents bought one for my 18th birthday. It’s made only occasional appearances since then and I can barely ride it, but I thought it was time to put it to use.
‘I didn’t know how it was going to go’
“I know once I’m on it, I can tootle forward and keep going a fair bit. But there is a big difference between going 70 yards and 26 miles.”
He completed the marathon by pedalling more than 40 loops around a route at Inverness Campus, taking more than eight hours over two days.
“It was hard work and I didn’t know how it was going to go. But that’s what people live with every day with MS or other long-term conditions.
“They face a tough journey every day and if it’s hard they just keep going. They show such stoicism and strength day in day out and just push on. They provided my inspiration. What I did was tiny compared to what people achieve every day.”
Mr Jenkins said the flood was a major blow for the charity following difficulties caused by the pandemic: “However we will get through it. The generosity of people and the effort they have gone to will give us a kick start to get up and running again.”
The charity’s CEO Leigh-Ann Little added: “The response, following the flood, from people wanting to get involved and support us was absolutely incredible.
“We had Kiltwalkers raising money for us in Inverness, Dumfries and Galloway and Edinburgh, setting themselves all kinds of challenges. All of our board got behind the event and took on challenges, including Dan’s Wobbly Marathon on his unicycle.
“The monies raised will help us to relaunch the centre once the repair works are undertaken.”