Norfolk woman’s positive approach creates new charity
She is an inspiring woman who refuses to let a lifetime of medical trauma get her down – and now Tonya Knights is channelling her hugely positive attitude into creating a new charity.
Ms Knights, 42, has set up Let's Do It Anyway Funding to help local good causes.
She said: 'I am really excited about the charity because if we can just make a small difference and help put smiles on people's faces, that would be amazing.
'I have met so many inspirational people who have had to overcome adversity from medical problems. Lots of these people have had the attitude 'let's do it anyway' despite their medical problems, and that is how I came up with the name for the charity. We aim to help raise awareness and funds to complete projects in the community.'
Ms Knights, who lives in Badersfield, formerly RAF Coltishall, was 14 when diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, a condition where the immune system attacks other parts of the body. Her kidneys failed and, in 1987, she had a kidney transplant. She also suffered heart and lung problems, which led to most of her left lung being removed in 1986.
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She went on to represent Great Britain in running at four World Transplant Games, winning a number of gold medals.
Last year she suffered a setback when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had an operation to remove the lump followed by radiotherapy, and just a couple of months later was solo sky-diving to make sure she quite literally ended 2010 on a high.
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Despite everything, Ms Knights thinks of herself as fortunate.
'I am very lucky because I have been given the gift of life,' she said. 'I still find it amazing somebody else's kidney is helping to keep me going. You have got to be positive. I owe it to everybody who has helped me.'
The charity is now raising money for the Norwich Social Centre for the Blind, the Norwich Lowriders Junior Wheelchair Basketball Team, and the After Breast Cancer Group in Norwich.
It plans to help other good causes in the future. Fundraisers being organised include a Kids 4 Kids Relay event, skydiving, a masked ball, a Kilimanjaro climb and a Lapland husky trial.
To find out more call 07564 641912, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.letsdoitanyway.com or look for the charity on Facebook.
Do you have a story? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email email@example.com