Soldier Stephen Connor is a ‘local hero’ to 11-year-old Shannon Reiss from Broughton in Tweeddale; he has raised almost £3,000 to help fund a lightweight manual wheelchair to help her get around her new high school.
Warrant Officer Class One Stephen, aged 37 from Paisley, is a careers manager at the Army personnel centre in Glasgow. He took on the gruelling 26.2-mile challenge of this year’s London Marathon and the 53-mile Highland Fling to raise money for Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.
He decided to run for Newlife after he read an article in The Daily Record about disabled three-year-old Ellie Goodwin who was sleeping in a car seat for her own safety before the charity provided her with a £10,000 specialist bed. Newlife appealed for ‘local heroes’ to donate or fundraise to help other disabled and terminally ill children in Scotland. Stephen said: “Like thousands of other people, I read the story in The Daily Record and I wanted to help Newlife support other Scottish families like Ellie’s.”
To prepare for the two sporting challenges, Stephen trained by running the six miles to and from work each day in Glasgow city centre – with his boss sending him off on additional six-mile jogs each lunch time.
Now his hard work has paid off – and his £2,930 of fundraising is helping to provide a lightweight manual wheelchair with electrical add-on drive for 11-year-old Shannon, who has Cerebral Palsy as a result of being born prematurely.
Mum Caroline Reiss said: “We started to notice that Shannon, who was 10 weeks premature, wasn’t developing at the same rate as other babies her age. When she was about two we discovered she had Cerebral Palsy, which mainly affects her legs.”
Shannon currently relies on a bulky manual wheelchair provided by statutory services which is too heavy for her to propel herself so she has to rely on other people to push her everywhere. In addition, it is not meeting her postural needs as Shannon has developed scoliosis.
Caroline said: “Shannon goes up to Peebles High School in September, which has a large campus compared to her small local primary school, so a lightweight wheelchair is crucial.”
The manual wheelchair being provided by Newlife is also being fitted with a specialist powered unit for easier movement over gradients and longer distances. Caroline said: “Shannon has trialled one of these chairs and she was an absolute whizz in it. She can’t wait to get her own – she will have a newfound freedom and independence. It will also mean she won’t be too tired to learn.”
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “With statutory services across the UK implementing continued budget cuts, we expect to see more and more families turn to Newlife Foundation for help. That’s why we’re appealing for ‘local heroes’ to come forward and donate or fundraise to help a disabled or terminally ill child in their area.”
If you would like to help other children in Scotland like Shannon and Ellie, call the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on freephone 0800 988 4640 or email [email protected].
To find out more about the range of equipment grant and loan support services offered by the charity, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline on freephone 0800 902 0095 or email [email protected].
Pictured: Shannon Reiss who is set to get her new wheelchair.
Pictured: Stephen Connor at the London Marathon 2014.
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