Meet our five amazing novice wheelchair racers
So you’ve been inspired to join the #millionsmoving and pulled on your trainers to walk the dog, run, cycle, or visit the gym. There aren’t too many obstacles to becoming more active when you’re able bodied. When you have a disability though, there are a few more barriers that you have to overcome, which is where a brilliant new initiative from The Unlimited Company from Simplyhealth and Great Run comes into its own.
The Unlimited Great North Wheelchair event will take place for the first time ever along the iconic quayside in Newcastle, as part of the Simplyhealth Great North Run weekend. Five people with varying disabilities have been fitted with race wheelchairs and are being trained by Paralympic coach, Rick Hoskins, before taking part in the 1 mile event on the 9th September.
Under the watchful eye and guidance of Rick Hoskins, and Paralympic Bronze medallist Andy Small, our five racers got their first experience in the race chairs in July.
Varying in age from 13 to 66 years, here they talk briefly about why they chose to join the #millionsmoving.
At the age of three Ian contracted polio, a viral infection that can cause temporary or permanent paralysis, which affected both of his legs. The 66 year old now suffers with post-polio, which causes further muscle weakness and fatigue if he doesn’t pace himself properly.
— “I was really happy and inspired when I first sat in a race wheelchair, it was then that I realised there was nothing stopping me becoming a participant and not just a spectator.
I’m hoping that it will be an exciting and enjoyable journey and I really want to meet the challenge and get fit and feel healthier. I’ll also get a great kick out of competing on closed roads and riding along that iconic Newcastle waterfront.”
13 year old Megan suffers from bilateral club feet, body seizures and spasms.
— "After going to watch the Paralympics in 2012 it really inspired me and made me believe I could do anything I want. I was quite nervous to begin with, but after getting used to the racing chair I became very excited for future training. At the end of the day their disability never stopped them so why should it stop me? Since I was little I always wanted to join in and do everything everyone else is but due to my disability I couldn't.”
Richard, aged 50, suffered spinal nerve damage whilst serving in the British Army and is currently received treatment for Tourette’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder.
— “I’ve wanted to take part in The Simplyhealth Great North Run for many years and I’ve finally got the chance to do it. It’s made my dreams come true at last. It’s great that The Unlimited Company from Simplyhealth, through their #millionsmoving campaign, have launched this event to get people more fit and healthy. I’ve already lost a stone and am getting used to the racing chair and I hope to take part in the full 13-mile Simplyhealth Great North Run in 2018 or 2019.”
Rosie, 15, suffers from cerebral palsy in all four of her limbs and also has a heart condition which affects her breathing.
— “When I watched the wheelchair racing in the Paralympics last year it motivated me to give it a go because it looked very fast and fun. I think this campaign is a good idea to get more people up and moving and breaking down barriers for disabled people. When I first got in the racing chair I felt excited because it’s something very different to anything I’ve ever tried before. I just couldn’t wait to get out on the track and go!”
17 year old Lucy from Stockport Lucy suffers from Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT), a neurological disease that causes muscle weakness in the limbs and affects one in every 2,500 people in the UK.
— “I was fascinated by the wheelchair racing athletes such as Hannah Cockcroft, I just could not believe how fast they were going in the chairs. I want to prove to people that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, no matter what your age, race or in my case, disability. I believe you can do anything if you put your mind to it. For the disabled community, what The Unlimited Company from Simplyhealth is doing is great. More people should have the opportunity to be involved in sport.”
Over the coming weeks we will be following Ian, Megan, Richard, Rosie and Lucy as they continue on their journey, through training to the inaugural event itself. So come back soon…..