Malcolm (Mal) & Sarah Skelton live in Cairns, Far North Queensland with their two children, Nathan & Jarrod.

Sarah has a rare progressive neurological disease called Friedreich Ataxia, a fatal, genetic, neurological, degenerative disease, believed to affect around 1 in 30,000 people.  Friedreich’s is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence.  As it progresses, it causes complete incapacitation, vision, hearing and speech failure, combined with severe heart disease, scoliosis and diabetes. In later stages, patients usually suffer from cardiac failure in their late thirties. Intellect remains unimpaired.  Sarah is thirty eight.

It is a debilitating, and devastating for their family. Recent research has identified a number of possible gene therapies for the condition with a number of pharmaceutical companies targeting the condition in their research – aimed at a cure. 

Mal will stop at nothing to find a treatment for his wife, to play his part. He is attempting join a small and elite group of athletes to cross the Tasman sea. Mal will row for upwards of 50 days, unassisted,  over 2500km (>1500mi) in a custom build ocean kayak from Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia to New Plymouth, New Zealand in 2016/2017. 

Seven years in the making, Mal has been training. He is a regular at the gym and his training runs consist of open water kayaking events - one of 97km and another 400km from Townsville to Cairns in 3.5 days beating  the unofficial record by over 5.5 days.

“It is my life’s duty to do whatever I can, and to push myself as hard as I can to help raise awareness and much needed funds for Friedreichs research. To see the effects Friedreich Ataxia has on a loved one, and to sit back and do nothing is unthinkable.” ~ Malcolm Skelton

Sarah, Defying the odds in her own way, training & competing for a local bodybuilding compettion.

Tasman Row for Friedreich Ataxia

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