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62-year-old Mr. Jan will walk 502 kilometers along the Main Beskid Trail for his grandson

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He works behind a desk and – as he says – “is not the type of athlete”. However, for his beloved grandson, he will walk 502 kilometers along the main Beskid trail. Goal: to help raise money for treatment and rehabilitation for Olinka, who requires constant care. The trip will take over two weeks. During it, 62-year-old Mr. Jan Baranik will spend the night in a tent.

Six-year-old Olinek, as Olka is affectionately called by his mother Agnieszka Jóźwicka, is now a joyful boy, but when he was born, the doctors did not give him a chance to survive. Problems appeared in the 12th week of pregnancy. First diagnosis: a congenital malformation of the urinary system.

Seven surgeries of Olinka still in the mother’s womb

I had seven prenatal surgeries during my pregnancy. At some point, something went wrong, infection and premature birth at 27 weeks. During the birth, the son did not get enough oxygen, he also had second and third degree brain hemorrhages. At first, he had no prognosis at all, we were not given a chance that he would survive. Later it was said that he would survive. But if he survives, his life will still be very difficult and he will be practically without contact with the environment and will be a lying child – says the boy’s mother. And he adds: – We put everything on one card. From the very beginning we had very good therapy from the best specialists in Poland.

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Olinek is now seven years old and has cerebral palsy. He is in a wheelchair, but alone. – He’s very communicative. She says and in fact, from a child who had no chance of survival, she is a child who is likely to have an independent life, says Agnieszka.

Olinek struggles with cerebral palsy, congenital urinary tract defect, sensory integration disorders and psychomotor retardationPrivate archive

However, in order to achieve this, huge amounts of money are needed. Every year, the boy’s treatment consumes from PLN 150,000 to even PLN 200,000 in family funds. The money goes to rehabilitation, medicines and treatment. – Hence my grandfather’s initiative to start the expedition. Collect this money and give Olink a chance to be independent – explains the boy’s mother.

Cheerful, likes math and cars

I ask Agnieszka about what kind of child Olinek is. With pride in his voice, he replies: – He is always laughing. Everyone emphasizes that they have never seen such a cheerful child. He has a very great mathematical talent that is just beginning to show. He likes math, he calculates everything all the time. He also loves motorization, he is a huge fan of cars. Knows all brands and models. His favorite is the Bugatti and he keeps looking for it.

Despite his disability, Olinek also likes sports. He trains on balance bikes for children with cerebral palsy. – He loves to be on the move and there is always something going on. She doesn’t like boredom – stresses Agnieszka.

Olinek is an active boy Private archive

Where did the idea for the trip come from? – My dad has always loved the mountains. However, he has never been on such a long journey – admits Agnieszka. He has been running the #dlaolinka auction for five years. However, interest is decreasing. – All fundraisers are quite conventional and I’ve noticed that people are bored with the rush of such actions. Very hard to break through. We wanted to do something unique, and at the same time, to carry some means. Then my dad came across some footage on TV and heard that two men were walking across Poland to raise money for a sick child. He discovered the main Beskid trail and decided that it would be a good idea to follow such a route – Agnieszka explains to us.

Olinka’s grandfather is after a serious operation. “Learning to walk again”

– For sure it will not be easy for him, because he himself has had a very difficult back surgery. In fact, Dad wasn’t supposed to go. He was learning to walk again after this operation. He succeeded, so he would like to get his grandson back on his feet – he adds.

Olinka’s grandfather, Mr. Jan Baranik, works as a tax advisor on a daily basis. It’s mostly a sit-down job at the computer. Despite this and back problems, he dared to plan a multi-kilometer trip. He finished training on the penultimate weekend of July. Then he had a week off to recuperate. Until the beginning of the expedition – August 2 – he stays with stretching exercises.

– I used to go every day. Including stretching and strength exercises. I carried a 12-kilogram backpack, walked about 12 kilometers – Mr. Jan tells us about his preparations. He adds that he also trained on the Ursynów hill – Kopa Cwila – which is the highest peak in the district (118 m above sea level – ed.).

I ask if he is nervous before the trip. After all, it is as much as 502 kilometers. “All I can think about is keeping my body strong.” We cannot predict this. I try to think positively in my head. I don’t feel any fear or anxiety, our interlocutor admits.

The longer it goes, the greater the chance of raising money

As he describes, the route is already planned and divided into 17 sections. The entire route should therefore be covered in 17 days. However, Jan is aware that the weather in the mountains can be changeable. – I take a tent with me, because I don’t always get to a place where I can sleep. I pass through a town at least once a day, so I can buy water or food there. Maybe the Beskid Niski is just a section where I can go without a shop for two days. Then I’ll have to buy some more of that water and food. I also hope that not all springs in the mountains have dried up and I will be able to draw water along the way – laughs Mr. Jan.

The journey will not be the easiest. Every day Mr. Jan has to walk 30 kilometers. – Of course, it’s not so even, because there are sections where there are, for example, 18 kilometers, but there is also one that has 40 – he explains.

And he admits: – I hope that we will be able to collect the right amount of funds for his grandson’s treatment and rehabilitation. This is the main goal of this trip. The transition itself is secondary. It is known that thanks to the fact that I will walk, there is a chance that we will collect these funds.

17 days is not a random number. The longer Mr. Jan walks, the greater the chance that people will observe his journey and actively participate in the fundraising.

Where will you be able to follow the expedition? “There will be Facebook coverage, and there will be access to GPS so people can see where I am and follow my progress. The entire route I have to go and more or less my location where I will be at a certain time will be drawn – explains Mr. Jan.

“I am always captivated by such adulthood in this little child”

Finally, I ask Mr. Jan about what kind of boy Olinek is.

– For me, he is the most wonderful. I am always captivated by such an adult in thinking and acting in this little child. It’s rare, but I think it’s a result of what he’s going through. He is also insanely happy. The exceptions are when he cries, when he is unhappy. He is happy with everything and is always smiling and ready to play. Full of joy. With him, a person does not even think that he has problems.

Dorota Gardias is the campaign’s ambassador. He accompanies the boy’s family in their daily strugglePrivate archive

Mr. Jan sets off on August 2 from Wołosaty in the Bieszczady Mountains to Ustroń in the Silesian Beskids. He will walk most of the route alone, but on some sections he will be joined by Dorota Gardias, an ambassador of the action, who accompanies the boy’s family in their daily fight. The report from the expedition can be followed on the Facebook profile “Dziadek Olinka”.

Main photo source: Private archive



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