A DISNEY fanatic will need the support of more than just her fairy godmother help her get to Cinderella’s Castle in time.

Karen Mills, from Colchester, lives and breaths everything Walt Disney related.

The 34-year-old, who is a self-confessed Disnerd, has visited Walt Disney World, in Florida, more than a dozen times.

She’s also been to Disneyland Paris three times and Disneyland Resort, in California.

But her life has not always been as magical as it is today.


Magic - Karen and husband Glen outside Cinderella's Castle in Walt Disney World 

Karen was born with Cystic Fibrosis and had to be on oxygen and medication around the clock, and she also needed a feeding tube.

However, her life changed forever seven years ago when she underwent a double lung transplant at the Royal Papworth Hospital, in Cambridgeshire.

Since the operation Karen has trained as an accountant and got married to Glen, 36, who she has travelled to Disney World with several times.

Karen has now set herself the challenge of walking the distance from Colchester Castle to Cinderella’s Castle, in Disney World - which is a total of 4,391 miles - for the hospital.

Her plan is to cover the mileage by the end of 2021 and she aims to walk between four and 12 miles a day.


She said: “I wouldn’t be able to do any of this if it wasn’t for my donor angel who provided me with these amazing lungs through the gift of organ donation but also my amazing transplant team at Royal Papworth.

“Right from the first meeting with the team, I knew I was in good hands and didn’t hesitate to put my life in their hands in 2014.

“Now I want to give back to them so they can continue to provide outstanding care for years to come.”

Karen said she chose to encompass the Disney-element into the challenge as it is her passion.


“I wondered how many miles it is between Colchester and Disney World, and that’s where the idea came from,” she added.

“Disney is a way to escape reality - and I would be more than happy to work and live in Walt Disney World one day.

“I’d even do it for free.

“The first time I went to Disney World with my husband I was worried he wouldn’t enjoy it.

“But luckily he did and he told me he wanted to go back.

“When he told me he wanted more holidays at Walt Disney World, it felt better than when he asked me to marry him.”

The coronavirus pandemic may have halted the couple’s plans to go to Disneyland Paris this month, but they have big tripped booked to visit the Orlando resort again in September.

Karen said: “Now I am almost seven weeks into the challenge I am finding I am getting addicted to exercise and moving - I find it hard to sit still for long.

“Every evening I tot up my steps and mileage for the day, using my love of spreadsheets and I am keeping a close eye on how far I am progressing and even have made some funky little maps to show the progress to my friends and family on Facebook.”

Karen works from home, and admits she wears something Disney related most days.

She is able to walk for about 12 miles during the weekends, and in the week she uses her treadmill during her lunch break and walks her dogs before or after work.

Money from Karen’s ambitious walk will be donated to the transplant unit and the Cystic Fibrosis unit at the Royal Papworth Hospital.

She said: “I would love to be able to raise £1,000 to split it between the two teams who have kept me alive and well since 2012 when I transferred my care to them.”

Karen is keeping donors updated on her progress through her JustGiving page.

To sponsor Karen or find out more visit, justgiving.com/fundraising/karen-mills-disnerd.


Castle to castle distances:

  • Colchester Castle to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland Paris is 224miles.
  • Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to Cinderella’s Castle in Disneyland California is 2170 miles.
  • Colchester Castle to Cinderella’s Castle in Walt Disney World Orlando is 4391 miles.