Blind ambition to climb Central Park

24 May 2017

For most of us, spending a Sunday morning climbing 1,103 steps to the top of Central Park is a daunting task. Now imagine tackling the 53 flights when you’re blind. For Alishia Anderson, who lost her sight in her late teens to retinitis pigmentosa, this will be the second time she’s taken part in the Shadforth Financial Group Step Up for MSWA.

“I’ve always been adventurous and love to set my myself a challenge. I’ve done the bridges run and the Joondalup marathon, I enjoyed doing Step Up the first time so I was keen to make it my next big challenge. It’s all good fun,” said Alishia.

“In 2015, I made it to the top in 20 minutes and eight seconds. I haven’t set myself an exact time goal but I’m hoping to be quicker than I was two years ago. And even though I started last, I managed to pass quite a few people in the stairwell, I’m very competitive.”

But being blind means Alishia won’t be tackling the stairs alone, her support worker, Lyn Davies, will be right behind her every step of the way.

“I told Lyn I’d really like to do Step Up again this year and I asked her if she be happy to do it with me, thankfully she said yes which is great. So, we’ll be doing some training together in the lead up to the event,” added Alishia.

“As well as helping me get to the starting line and through the door that leads to the stairs at Central Park, Lyn will be walking behind me to make sure everything is okay as I hold onto the handrail as I do the climb.”

Lyn Davies has been Alishia’s carer for almost a year and has one simple rule.

“There’s no limitations to what she can do, except drive, I draw the line at letting her do that. When she asked about Step Up I said yes, let’s do it. There’s nothing she won’t try and I’m the one who gets to enjoy it with her and we’re both meeting new people,” said Lyn.

“We’re both in training at the moment, I’m doing five minutes on the stepper and climbing 18 floors, she’s doing 20 minutes and climbing 73 floors, so I’ve got a bit of catching up to do but I think I’ll get there.”

“Alishia really is an inspiration for all of us. I’ve done Step Up and it’s a challenge for anyone but to not to be able to see where you’re going or what’s going on around you makes it even more difficult,” said MSWA CEO Marcus Stafford.

This year’s Shadforth Financial Group Step Up for MSWA is on Sunday June 18 and there are three different climb options: One Up - 1,103 stairs or 53 flights; Double Up for over 18’s, 2,206 stairs or 106 flights and the Mini Climb for kids aged between 6-11 years, 435 stairs or 20 flights. An adult must accompany a child on the Mini Climb.

“Last year Step Up raised more than $141,000 which was used to provide support and services for people living with MS and other neurological conditions. It also allowed us to invest a record amount of more than two million dollars into research to find the cause and cure for MS. This year we’re hoping to raise even more so we can extend our services to the people who need them,” added Mr Stafford.

MSWA Ambassador Josh Kennedy praised Alishia and Lyn and all the other people taking part for their passion and commitment to a worthy cause.

“I’ve got the easy part on the day, all I have to do is press the starters’ horn, the hard part happens after that as the steppers tackle the 1,103 stairs to the top,” said Josh.

“It doesn’t matter how long they take to get to the top, they’re helping to raise money for a great cause and they can all leave knowing that they’ve helped to make a difference to the lives of people with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions.”

To register to take part in the Shadforth Financial Group Step Up for MSWA or to donate go to