Words by Smiley Team
The sky's the limit when it comes to devising fundraising challenges for good causes – and 21-year-old Edward Smith decided to go one step further than your usual challenge.
Inspired by his sister who has sight loss, Edward is attempting a blindfold mountain challenge in Thailand to raise funds for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
The student from Northamptonshire will be travelling to South-East Asia for three months, and it's during this time he'll take the plunge and be blindfolded for 72 hours for the hike – guided by his girlfriend Eimear.
Edward's older sister Harriet, 32, has been blind since birth. She's been supported by the charity throughout her life and uses RNIB Library regularly to receive braille books. Harriet is an avid reader and Edward believes without RNIB this wouldn’t be possible.
“My sister has always inspired me by the way she navigates a world that’s designed for people with sight," he says. "I’ve wanted to fundraise for RNIB for a while as a thank you for their support over the years and I thought this could be the perfect time.
"Hopefully this challenge will help raise awareness of the barriers people with sight loss face daily."
Preparing for the challenge is no easy feat. Edward and Eimear are planning to practice locally – just recently, Edward wore a blindfold to his local shops.
"It was somewhat of a taster," he said. "Navigating the streets with no sight and finding what I needed in store was challenging. It was only for around 30 minutes so it will be interesting to do the full 72 hours blindfolded in Thailand."
He's planning to climb Khao Chang Phueak – a mountain approximately 1,249 meters above sea level – and will be live streaming and posting regular updates on his Instagram @blackout_blindfold.
Chris Perrin, Interim Challenge Events Senior Manager at RNIB, said: “We would like to wish Edward the best of luck with this incredible challenge. His bravery is admirable, and we look forward to following his journey on social media. He will surely be doing his sister proud!
“The money raised will help support over two million blind and partially sighted people in the UK. Please dig deep and support Edward on this epic challenge.”
SUPPORT: You can support Edward's fundraising efforts for RNIB by donating through his JustGiving page.
VOLUNTEER: Get involved with RNIB and see what volunteering opportunities they have available.