The Community Initiative is now into its second full season at Dens, and this season saw the arrival of the Blake McMillan Trust. Blake is the son of Dundee fan Paul and his wife Jenny, and was born with MeCP2. MeCP2 Duplication Syndrome is a rare condition, occurring almost exclusively in males, with only around 150 diagnoses worldwide. Symptoms can include moderate to profound intellectual disability, weakened muscle tone, problems with feeding and failure to thrive, speech that is poor or nonexistent, and muscle stiffness. Severe, uncontrolled epilepsy is also very common with sufferers of this condition.
Heavily involved with the Blake McMillan Trust is our own club Director Steve Martin, who pledged to once again climb Kilimanjaro to kick start the fundraising. Steve has just returned, and the Society caught up with the mountain man to see how the epic journey went.
‘We were discussing Blake in the pub one night, and I said I would go and climb Kilimanjaro to start off the fundraising. That was in March, and I kind of forgot about it for a month, then realised what I had taken on. I didn’t really want to do it on my own, my son Stephen had climbed the same mountain with me last year, and I knew there was no chance of him doing it again, so I got in touch with my mates Duncan Souter and Colin Morris. Duncan had never really been into hill walking or mountain climbing, but he is quite fit, he thought about it and quickly said he would do it with me. Colin Morris, or ‘English Colin’ as we call him, he is English, and called Colin, so you can see how he got the nickname, he had never been up the Law before, never mind Kilimanjaro, but we talked him into making the trip as well.
‘Preparations began in late April, we started climbing Munros for training, the Paps O’ Fife, which were easy for us, a ten mile circuit which we were doing basically every week, when I say easy, compared to the rest of the Bens in Scotland, it was easy because you can nip across there and be back in four hours, so we did a lot of training. The guys were obviously getting apprehensive, what gear do we need, what are we going to do, stuff like that, but we pretty much kept training right up until October.’
With business interests in Spain as well as here, Steve had to continue his training while out of the country, and roped in wife Elaine to help with that. ‘While in Spain, I took advantage of a local mountain called Montgo ,which is right in Javea, where I have a house, and that is great training for Kilimanjaro, at 850 metres high, so I did that five times in the summer. Also, along with Elaine, I did the Camino de Santiago, which is a 100 mile walk in northern Spain hiking right down to Santiago, that was five days, eight hours a day, similar to walking from Dundee to Perth every day, so that was hard work, but it was training for Kilimanjaro. The Camino de Santiago has about ten different routes, some from France, southern Spain, northern Spain, but they all end up at Santiago Cathedral where St James, the patron Saint of Spain is buried. It is a shrine really, so we took advantage of going on this pilgrimage as it were, and training at the same time. On top of that, we got some money towards Blake’s fund from CURVES in Broughty Ferry so that was quite good as well.’
So after all the training, the group had to come up with a name, ‘We called ourselves Blake’s Mountain Goats, Blake is obviously from young Blake, the mountain for Kilimanjaro, and the Goats, well basically, someone told me I must be acting the goat when I said I was going up again, so Blake’s mountain goats came from there. We have been raising money for the Blake McMillan trust since then, and once all the money is collected, we hope to have raised about £3000,and that includes £180 from the first team squad at Dens, but the journey itself was difficult.’
‘I thought I knew what to expect, and I did really, but we went a different route this time, last time I climbed from the south, this time we started from the north, right on the border with Kenya, and it was a difficult route, pretty much constant sixty degree climbing, the route up and down is a seven day route, although we managed it in six. We really just wanted to get it done and get back to a decent hotel, sleeping in tents was horrendous, and while we were lucky with the weather, Kilimanjaro is that high, it has six different climates, at the bottom you are sweltering in 33 degree heat, at the top, its -20, we spent two nights at base camp in -20 conditions, it is so cold, you struggle to undo the zip on the tent.’
So from there Steve and the ‘Goats’ were ready to return, and just in time for the start of Movember. ‘I had put a picture on my facebook page, just to say look at the state of me after Kilimanjaro, I had a fair bit of facial hair, when one of team Dundee Football Club, a team involved with Movember asked if I would be interested in joining the team. I thought I had a wee start on it anyway, so I might as well, so basically I signed up for Movember from halfway up a mountain. So that was settled, and so far I have raised £almost 300 towards the team total, which I believe is currently at over£1300, and we are only just finished the third week, raising over one thousand is obviously fantastic.’
‘Sometimes it is difficult for me, I run four companies, and for certain customers, this look is not what they expect to see from me, but to be fair to them all, I mention Movember, and they have all been very understanding. and obviously as a club director, I represent the club, and sometimes I have to turn up at away games nicely presented, and go into the boardroom, help build bridges in the game, we do still have to build a lot up again, but turning up with my Mo, I am sure they will understand.’
Steve also wanted to point out, that although he has been closely involved with two of the Initiatives this season, the Community Initiative is something that adds to the work done running the club, ‘I think that the work Jacqui and her team do in the community gives the club a new dimension that we never had before, really showing that we are a caring club, not self centred, and basically helping other less fortunate people, and getting good publicity for the club which has helped “ build bridges” after our misadventures of the past.’
For Jacqui Robertson, having Steve on board with the Movember campaign, following up from his adventure as part of Blake’s Mountain Goats, can only be a good thing. ‘Steve is a real charity champion and regularly seen to be getting involved in really physical activities to raise awareness and money and I applaud him for it although I'm happier to do these things from the relative comfort of home and Dens Park, so all credit to him.’
‘Having Steve join the Movember team is great and a real indication of the strength of relationships between the Board and Supporters' Society. Incredibly at his first online donation Steve added £200 to the team, currently beating last year's leader Billy Morris. It's probably fair to say that Billy's leadership was more about the money than the aesthetic quality of said mouser but he did an amazing job last year helping to take Team DFC past the £700 mark.’
‘As it stands at the moment we are hoping to double last year's total soon and I want to thank everyone who joined or donated to our team, they are all helping to raise awareness of testicular and prostate cancer and men's health in general’
The Society is proud to be involved with the Blake McMillan trust, and the Movember Campaign, and anyone wishing more details on either charity can visit online here for Blake’s Mountain Goats,here for Steve’s Movember page, orhere for donating to team Dundee Football ClubGeorge Harris speaks to the Tele Monday, November 19, 2012 at 15:19
The chairman of the Dundee Football Club Supporters Trust expects around 1,000 of the Dark Blues’ faithful to make the long trip to Paisley on Saturday as Dee look to continue their recent revival. Two wins and a draw from their last three has seen the Dens Park club climb from the depths of despair to within touching distance of safety. A win at St Mirren, who are one place and point better off, would see Dundee off the bottom for the first time in more than ten weeks.'This game is huge for the club,' said Harris. 'I’m sure the manager wouldn't thank me for saying it but we have a fantastic opportunity. I think this club and this team have turned the corner. By no means are St Mirren any mugs. Everyone has to remember they are a seasoned SPL side and will pose a different kind of challenge to us this weekend.''Every game in this division is tough but if we continue to play the way we have of late, I have every confidence in them. From being so far behind to now within a point is some achievement.We want to win every game, but I think it also very important not to get beat. A point away from home anywhere at this level is positive.'Harris was keen to point out that the recent pick up on the field has nothing to do with luck. He hailed the hard work and commitment shown by the playing and non-playing staff at the club, who he says are all pulling in the right direction for the good of the club.'Brick by brick we are building,' said Harris. 'On the pitch we have a fantastic bunch of players. Every single one of them to a man has been excellent – the camaraderie in the dressing room is second to none. At boardroom level everyone is working hard to make sure the club is travelling in the right direction. And we couldn’t have anyone more hard working than Barry Smith at the helm.''The recent results are testament to the work put in by all of them. We just need to hope the results can keep coming, especially on Saturday. The amount of fans travelling over will make a huge difference to the players.'
Source: Dundee Mad