My 16km trek - on a walker

18:49, Jan 31 2013
UNITED COUPLE: William Beattie who suffers from Progressive supranuclear palsy is attempting the Auckland Coast to Coast walk with his wife Kara Wishart Beattie.

Walking isn't easy for William Beattie.

But that didn't stop him or his wife Kara from trekking across Auckland raising awareness and hope.

Mr Beattie suffers from Progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disorder that often displays similar symptoms to Parkinson's disease.

It commonly causes a loss of mobility and is considered fatal.

The Henderson resident was diagnosed around four years ago and has gradually lost the ability to walk properly. The condition has severely affected his speech.

But the avid walker is seeing a remarkable improvement with the help of medical specialists and the Korean accupunture therapy Su Jok,


Mr Beattie says he struggled with the loss of movement during the first few years after diagnosis.

"It was frustrating, I used to fall all the time."

He now has to use a walking frame and the artist can no longer make the concrete garden pots or wooden rocking chairs he was well-known for.

Mr Beattie decided to take on a challenge after his condition improved.

The Auckland Coast to Coast Walk spans 16 kilometres from Onehunga to Auckland City.

Mr Beattie uses a walker while his wife joined him carrying a fold-up chair in case her husband needed to rest. They walked as far as Mr Beattie could manage and then a volunteer supporter picked them up and dropped them off where they finished two days later to carry on.

"It really is an essential walk for all Aucklanders to do, it was just great," Mr Beattie says. "It's nice to get out in the fresh air and move."

The couple took eight days to complete the walk.

"Once he started walking he just got on a roll and some days I think we ended up doing 3kms," Mrs Wishart Beattie says.

Mrs Wishart Beattie is pleased to see her husband improving.

"One of the things about Parkinsons is there are no facial expressions, but since we've seen the Korean healer, William can smile and he has walked out to the car one day and put his walker in the car - he never would have done that before.

"The first day we did 1km and the second time we did 1.4kms, so we could be getting fitter with every walk.

"Once William was diagnosed we decided to start having adventures and once we complete this walk, we will move onto the next one.

"We've decided that we're going to beat this and give it a run for its money," she says.

Mr Beattie plans to rest up and recover before heading out for another adventure which he's hoping will be a ride on a motorbike to Muriwai Beach.

Email beat if you would like to support their walks.

Western Leader