We’re back with another inspiring addition to the Mighty People series. This time we’re chatting with twins, Jonathan and David Stretton-Downes, who fill us in on their incredible journey to raise £100,000 for the British Heart Foundation in just one year.
The idea for 6XOPEN came about when Jonathan was due to have his sixth open heart surgery and wanted to turn the experience into something positive. Born with Aortic Stenosis, a condition that affects the body’s ability to pump blood around the body – Jonathan had his first surgery when he was six days old. A life of being in and out of hospital made them realise that they wanted to change the stereotype for those with heart conditions.
It’s been an epic journey so far – they’ve already had their heads shaved in front of thousands (more on that here) and have jumped 13,000ft out of a plane. One of the more challenging events was when they climbed the three highest peaks in Britain in under 24 hours, which was a gruelling yet worthy experience that allowed them to really push themselves both physically and mentally.
Jonathan recently told us he’s now super excited to take on the upcoming 22-day road trip with Linda Heart (if you’re wondering – Linda is a vintage Peugeot 205, who has been in the family for ten years). The road trip will be an opportunity to hear the stories of other inspirational people going through similar issues and meet those who have supported them along the way.
But their biggest challenge is the one that started it all. “Raising £100k in twelve months is a big task” the boys told us, “but if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!”. Today, thanks to their positive outlook and fierce determination, they’ve managed to gain a huge number of supporters across the country and are well on the way to raising an unbelievable amount of money.
The campaign has been a great way of raising funds for vital research into heart disease, however, it’s also been an opportunity for the brothers to talk openly about their experiences from different perspectives. Their words of advice for anyone going through a similar plight are to set targets and communicate with likeminded people, but mostly to maintain a positive outlook as this makes all the difference.
Be sure to catch the documentary of their journey when it’s released this year and in the meantime, why not head over to their website to find out more and donate to a great cause, helping them get even closer to their goal.
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