From wheelchair to walking across England!

Hi! I am Karen Lock Kolp, and some of you know me as Kay! In 2011 I lost the ability to walk more than a few steps. I needed a wheelchair whenever I left the house!
Now I am in training to walk across the Coast to Coast path in northern England. 182 miles!

This is my story. Thank you for reading <3

As a child I loved exploring the outdoors behind my home.

I would run there when I was sad or upset. Nature never failed to give solace.
The solitude and simply being in tune with nature spoke to me, then as now.

Back then I first read the book All Creatures Great and Small, a memoir by large-animal veterinarian James Herriot about his life in England's Yorkshire Dales. Herriot's world captivated me starting from when I was 10 years old and still does today.

In 2011 when I lost the ability to walk more than a few steps, I was deprived of my precious outdoors. It felt like losing a piece of myself.

I couldn't go into the woods anymore, couldn't explore with my children or by myself. I was in so much pain.

There was fear, too, because I didn't know what was happening or why.

Now we know that needed medicine I took in June 2011 caused the tendon condition that I still live with.

I pushed my mind and body beyond safe limits, going without sleep, becoming dehydrated and malnourished in a quest for some kind of perfection.
One July day in 2011 – for no reason I could discern – my leg became so overcome with pain that I had to stop using it.

In the following months my leg muscles atrophied and my condition baffled the doctors and physical therapists.
By early 2012, I had given up hope that I would ever be pain-free, or walk more than a few steps.
My parents and my husband Ben convinced me to visit a new doctor.

A specialist in sports medicine, he understood what was going on like no one else had. He brought hope and heart and new tools to try!

Over these last 11 years – and with LOTS of support – I have rehabilitated my body.

With proper care I can get outside and hike and ski and be!
Also, on a good day I have about 50% use of my hands!
That's so much better than I'd ever thought could happen for me.

It really took a village... my loved ones (lots of you reading this : ) and an amazing team of medical professionals were a huge part of that…. I learned that I could live a good life.

Now I feel well enough to train for something big!

I'm running away to the great outdoors as I used to do when I was a kid.

A few years ago I learned of the coast-to-coast path that travels across the north of England.
And guess what! This path goes right through the Yorkshire Dales, the place James Herriot wrote about in All Creatures Great and Small!

Traversing this special trail – enjoying nature as I used to do when I was a kid – feels like getting a part of myself back.
Exploring in a place I've dreamed about since childhood is the icing on the cake!

The training to walk 8 to 10 miles per day for 21 days in a row will demand that I be in the best physical shape of my life.

I know I can do this.

I am IN for this adventure with all my heart.

I am grateful for all the support I'm receiving!

The flight from where I live in the US has been COMPLETELY PAID FOR by you, my treasured friends!!

And some of my lodging costs along the path have been paid too!

I am working on the rest of the lodging as well as painting supplies, hiking kit like boots and backpack, and the medical care necessary after hitting my head in a rockclimbing accident in late December 2022.

The physical therapy and coaching I am receiving now means I am stronger than ever – and more ready than ever – to cross northern England on foot!

I am more grateful than I can say for your generosity and support.. Thank you!!!
Thank you for reading! The fact that you are reading this means the world to me!

Donations (23)

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  • Karin Dent
    • $50 
    • 5 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $201 
    • 5 mos
  • Maureen Heal
    • $104 
    • 5 mos
  • Jason Coxall
    • $50 
    • 7 mos
  • Karin Dent
    • $50 
    • 7 mos
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Karen Lock Kolp
Bellingham, MA

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