Walk in my shoes in the Soller Valley

Tofol Castanyer is local hero and fine athlete. He is a prominent figure in mountain racing and competes, successfully, worldwide.  His time is precious and there are many who call on him to help their causes and promote them.  If he is able he answers the call and so it was this week. He took ‘Steps for Pau’ and as a Solleric this was something he had no hesitation in giving his time, talent and energy for.
Pau is a child with muscular dystrophy, he lives in Soller and everyone knows him and his family.  He is growing and his life and disabilities can be helped with a state of the art wheelchair.  We are told that such a chair costs in excess of 25,000 euros. When the community heard of this the word went round and every part of our Soller Valley world is helping. The children of the football club have all brought donations.  The young people of the secondary school in Soller have organised a sponsored marathon. A Show Cooking event with Marc is happening with all proceeds to this cause. These are among many events and collections that are currently taking place here for Pau.
Last Wednesday Soller square was packed with children from the local schools who came to listen at Tofol Castanyer told his story.  He described to the audience how he was going to do a long distance run for Pau to raise money towards the wheelchair.  They learned that he intended to run for as long as it took to complete a 190 km course through the Tramuntana mountains. The children listened spellbound as he described night running and the stamina needed for his efforts.
On Friday at 7 am, in the dark, in Soller, a crowd gathered to send Tofol on his way with cheers.  The crowd then dispersed back to warm homes while Tofol braved the rain, wind and mountains. The Muscular Dystrophy Association stayed in Soller to answer questions about the very worthy cause and give information about this serious condition.   The emphasis was on quality of life for sufferers and this is what ‘Steps for Pau’ is all about. The cure is not in our hands but enabling a life with the condition is and this is what the people of the Soller Valley are supporting.
On Saturday at 3.30pm I was in the square in Soller together with Rachel Fox (our photographer) and hundreds of other people.  The word was out that Tofol was on his way and that he had just run into Deia.  The TV cameras were there and everyone was messaging their friends to get down to the square.  It really was the only place to be. It always amazes how the centre of Soller fills up just in time for these sort of events.
Tofol Castanyer ran into Soller to cheers, applause and firecrackers.  The crowd went wild and Tofol was only word on everyone’s lips. He ran up the Town Hall steps and hugged Pau and his mum and left the rest of us biting back the tears.
He had completed 190 km in an unbroken 32 hours 45 minutes.  He still had the energy to address the crowd and thank them for their support and remind them of the daily struggle that Pau has in his life.
The crowd dispersed very happy that Tofol had achieved his ambition for Pau and proud to be part of this community that cares for its own.  Most of them came back out later in the evening as Soller was singing Christmas in the church in the evening.  This was the Town Band on parade again together with the talents of three local schools. They sang and had a great time and encouraged the audience to join in as well.  There are many here that think that the Christmas season really starts after this concert.  It all ended with ‘Feliz Navidad’ sung lustily and then everyone dispersed thinking what a great Soller day it had been.
The Soller Valley is a mixed community of people.  Some have no financial worries and others struggle.  When it comes to big problems like a very expensive wheelchair everyone just does their part – big or small – whatever they can afford. This is a humbling time here in the Soller Valley to see how the people care.  I am very proud to be here amongst them.

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