Hringvegurinn-a-roses!

All year round our wonderful fundraisers are often doing all kinds of things to raise awareness for OCD Action, but it’s not often they get declared an official expedition of the University of Cambridge!

Chase Caldwell Smith and Kate Ellison are two second year history students at Gonville and Caius, Cambridge. You may remember Caius for their impressive University Challenge win last summer, but just wait until you hear what Chase and Kate have in store this year!

Chase has lived with OCD his whole life, ever since he spilt a drop of water on his parents’ bathroom counter when he was five. Chase struggled with intrusive thoughts about guilt, morality and scrupulosity, constantly checking and double-checking whether his actions were “moral” or not. His compulsions got so bad that, when applying for university, he became physically ill with shingles brought on from stress and nearly lost his sight. This motivated Chase to get medical help, and he was finally diagnosed with OCD.

Two years on, Chase is doing much, much better and is in his second year at Cambridge as a historian. Now he’s got his own life back on track he wants to help other people who are in his position and raise awareness for OCD, particularly on a university level, where mental health issues are common and often go ignored.

So Chase, with Kate at his side, will be travelling to Iceland this summer and cycling – yes, cycling – the 1332km ring road that circles the island. Known as the Hringvegurinn (which simply means “ring road”), their quest will be long and bumpy, including unpaved gravel paths, hilly areas and even natural hazards! Now if this isn’t going the extra mile for people with OCD, we don’t know what is!

Chase is leading the expedition, and Kate will be serving as its Medical Officer. They’ve been given official backing by the university, who have designated it as an official expedition.

If you’d like to support our two intrepid explorers, they’ve described four ways that people can lend a hand:

Subscribe. Chase and Kate will be posting regular updates on their process on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Check them all out, and follow their pages!

Donate. Their target is £1332 (£1 for every kilometre they cycle!) and they’ve already managed to raise £262.05. Head to their JustGiving page and help them reach their target!

Contribute. As well as donating, you can help them with the expedition itself. Chase and Kate will need cycling equipment, food, medical supplies, and other kit to make their dream a reality. If you want to help sponsor them with this, get in touch with them at ccs48@cam.ac.uk or kle37@cam.ac.uk.

Make a change. Finally, Chase and Kate simply want people to educate themselves more about OCD, keep on the lookout for symptoms in people they know and learn how to support them. Resources for this can be found on this very website.

Chase and Kate also have an excellent video, which we highly recommend, about their expedition:

So best of luck to Chase and Kate on their thrilling adventure, and doing an act of self-sacrifice that would make even Captain Oates blush!

Have you got any fundraising events planned? Don’t worry if it’s not quite as heavy as this one: every fundraising event, big or small, is just as important to our cause. Get in touch with Phil at philip@ocdaction.org.uk or on 020 7253 5272 and we’ll support you as much as we can.