Leading provider of specialist accountancy, payroll and employment services to contractors and freelancers, JSA, is always looking for ways to give back to local and wider communities.
Staff at JSA already take part in the London to Brighton bike ride and the local ‘Push it for Peace’ assault course initiative for the Peace Hospice in Watford. The company also sponsors two local football teams and two members of staff are sponsored and trained as NSPCC Childline Schools Service volunteers.
Through an introduction by Chairman Andrew Goodman, the company recently had a visit and talk by Michael McGrath, (pictured in the powerchair with JSA staff, left), the CEO and founder of the Muscle Help Foundation (MHF), a small, family charity that delivers personalised, life-changing experiences for children and young people across the UK who suffer with the muscle-wasting disease, Muscular Dystrophy (MD).
Michael, who was himself diagnosed with MD at the age of 18, is the driving force behind MHF and the first disabled person in the world to have successfully led expeditions to both the North (April 2002) and South Poles (January 2004).
JSA MD, Ben Dunn, began by introducing Michael to the staff and, during his 30-minute talk, Michael began to engage the hearts and minds of JSA staff. He described all the hopes and dreams that he had as a normal teenager, including a lifelong love of rugby and also wanting to be a professional golfer at the age of 15. However, he experienced a life-changing moment when, at the age of 18, he was told that he was suffering from the cruel and debilitating disease, Muscular Dystrophy. Now permanently in a powerchair, he is an inspiration to others, refusing to let his condition prevent him from what he wants to achieve in life.
He described how he got involved with the expedition to the North and South Poles and how it taught him about sponsorship, giving him the initial idea to start the charity. The treks were supported by high profile celebrities such as Jon Snow, Lorraine Kelly and Kenneth Branagh, (the latter two now patrons of MHF) and famous Everest mountaineer, Sir Chris Bonington.
Michael gave a flavour to JSA staff of the high octane annual ‘Muscle Dream’ programmes that the charity runs during the year for its beneficiaries. These include include a day at the Porsche Driving Centre in Silverstone, a sailing day in Portsmouth and a flying day at Farnborough airport.
In addition, the charity has a long waiting list of individual ‘Muscle Dreams’ to fulfill. Some of those that it has been able to deliver in the past have included keen rugby fans having front row seats at key international matches; seeing and meeting pop stars Olly Murs and the Saturdays; having a one-to-one with and interviewing global Hollywood icon, Al Pacino; and watching the entire England football team training!
The charity’s biggest ever programme involved taking 75 beneficiaries to see their Paralympic athlete heroes perform at the London 2012 Paralympics - a truly life-changing experience for all who were lucky enough to take part.
The newest campaign, launched by the charity in January of this year, is their #powerof657 campaign, focusing on delivering 657 ‘Muscle Dreams’ – the total number of muscles in the human body.
Michael emphasised the importance of what the charity brings to the beneficiaries and their family: hope, strength and courage. This is vital since many of these boys and girls will not live past their early 20s. Michael highlighted the fact that 4 beneficiaries had sadly passed away in the past 8 weeks.
Michael concluded his talk by throwing down a challenge for JSA staff, inviting them to take part in the charity’s annual ‘Just Walk’ event – a 10K walk on the beautiful South Downs in Sussex. This year, it will take part on Saturday 9th May.
Ben Dunn thanked Michael for his talk and added that JSA will match all funds raised by staff at the ‘Just Walk’ 10K and will even lay on a coach to take staff there and back! 16 staff immediately signed up to take part – a further report on that to follow afterwards!
The entire company then posed for a photo with Michael, all doing the traditional ‘Muscle Warrior salute’ – a symbol of hope and courage for all MD sufferers.
For more information on ‘Just Walk’: http://www.musclehelp.com/upcoming-events/just-walk