Maura Moore joined a group of Irish women who trekked the North Pole for Debra Ireland.
Trekking through snow drifts, sleeping in tents under the Arctic skies and skiing across frozen lakes - it was an adventure of a lifetime for one Kilkenny woman when she traveled into the Arctic Circle to help raise funds for an Irish charity.
Maura Moore, who is originally from Cuffesgrange and now lives in Dublin, undertook an amazing challenge earlier this year to help raise €150,000 for the small charity Debra Ireland.
It was snowy in Ireland last winter but that didn't compare to the extreme weather and other living conditions at the North Pole where Maura was among a group of 20 Irish women who took on ‘The Arctic Challenge.’
Maura and her group of ‘badass women leaders’ trekked across the Lapland region of Northern Finland.
Debra Ireland which is a registered charity which has a mission of providing care in the community for people who suffer from EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) and support advanced medical research to find a cure.
EB is a genetic condition that leaves skin as fragile and delicate as a butterfly's wings and causes the skin layers both internally and externally to blister and wound at even the slightest touch.
Maura told the Kilkenny People that it was an at information evening for women who were interested in taking part in the challenge that she learned about the condition and how it affects the lives of those living with it. Liz, the mother of a 14 year old with the condition, spoke about how her daughter's fingers are fusing together because of the condition. Another lady who spoke was Emma who is in her 30s - she highlighted how it is unusual for those with EB to live past their 20s. Emma spoke about her daily challenges, regular bandage changing and the pain of the condition.
Some children with EB pass away as young as three.
Camping out in the Arctic.
When she heard the presentation Maura realised she had so much to be grateful for in her life and signed up for the inaugural Adventure.ie led trek for Debra Ireland.
What followed was months of training - trekking in the Wicklow Mountains and the Mourne Mountains. It was not only physical training but it helped build up mental stamina and was a team bonding exercise.
The training paid off in the minus 27 degree temperature that greeted Maura in the Arctic.
Setting out by ski or snowshoe each day into the wild, the group learned new skills, saw the paw prints of hare and Arctic fox, and the Siberian jays on the trees.
Maura said conditions were tough, even gruelling at times, climbing uphill for 3km on cross country skis using the herringbone technique, whilst pulling sleds of provisions.
The toughest challenge was sleeping overnight at a base camp in tents with temperature plummeting to -21C.
The Northern Lights photographed by Ursula Beecher who was with Maura's group.
But there were high points of the trek too - witnessing the spectacular Northern Lights, skiing over a frozen lake, and especially the fun and laughter the great camaraderie the group had together. Maura was amazed at the beauty and absolute stillness of the landscape.
“I’ll never forget the energy and sense of achievement, unbreakable team spirit, all for one and one for all, the empathy, support and sheer kindness and laughter, whilst making a real impact for this great charity and the community and families it serves,” Maura said.
She added her thanks to all her family, co-workers and friends who supported her fundraising for the trip. Maura paid her own way and all monies raised went directly to the charity.
If you would like to learn more about Debra Ireland go to DebraIreland.org
Cross country skiing with their provisions.