Three Midlands teenagers will be taking up the Olympic torch during its journey across theUKin preparation for this summer’s London Games, thanks to the provision of powered and lightweight wheelchairs by leading children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation.
Alex Jordan, aged 17, from Worcester, Thomas Bolton, 17, from Burntwood in Staffordshire and Charlotte Moore, 13, from the Tile Hill area ofCoventry, have been officially named as torchbearers. Alex will hold the torch aloft through Worcester on Thursday 24 May and Thomas will do the same inNewtown, near Burntwood in Staffordshire, on Saturday 30 June.Charlottewill be taking up the torch on Sunday 1 July nearWarwick.
Alex Jordan is currently enjoying college life to the full inWorcester, thanks to his £20,000 wheelchair, presented to him last year by Newlife in partnership with Marks and Spencer.
Alex has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle degenerative condition resulting in loss of movement, eventually leading to paralysis. He needed a specialist powered wheelchair – with a sit-to-stand capability – to help reduce skeletal deformities and maintain his muscle strength at the same time as allowing him to play a full and active part in college life. Alex is studying a Btec in Applied Science atWorcesterTechnicalCollege.
Alex said: “Not only did I get ‘my legs’ in time for college last year, I now have the opportunity to play a small part in one of the greatest sporting events in the world. I’m very excited to be chosen to take part in the torch relay, which would not have been possible without my new chair.”
Thomas Bolton was one of the very first children to receive specialist disability equipment through Newlife. He has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, with both arms and legs affected, and has no independent mobility.
Since Thomas’s first grant, the charity has awarded £7,256,251 to provide aids for almost 5,000 children. Last year Newlife funded his third application, for an £8,340 powered wheelchair.
TheFriarySchool,Lichfield, pupil is delighted at being chosen for the Olympic honour. He said: “Newlife introduced me to the world of fundraising. I would personally like to thank Newlife for this and for providing me with my fantastic new powered chair. This has transformed my life completely. I am now far more mobile and have the great honour of carrying the Olympic torch”.
Charlotte was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a malignant cancer, when she was just 12 weeks old. The cancer was treated with chemotherapy to shrink the tumour but its growth around the spine prevented normal nervous system development and resulted in her being paraplegic.Charlotterelies on a wheelchair for mobility. Newlife contributed to the cost of a lightweight manual wheelchair forCharlottein 2007 and funded a second wheelchair, costing £2,878, when she was 12.
Charlotte is a keen sportswoman; she is theUKnumber one under-16 female wheelchair tennis player andUKnumber one under-15 female wheelchair racer. She also plays wheelchair basketball for the Coventry Crusaders’ wheelchair basketball team and has raced in the Virgin London Wheelchair Mini-Marathon for the last three years, winning the girls under-14 category for the last two years.
She has committed herself to fundraising for Newlife, and has so far raised more than £1,300 for the charity through the Mini-Marathon.Charlottewill be fundraising for Newlife again at this year’s event on April 22.
Charlotte said: “Thanks to Newlife I have a great lightweight wheelchair that looks good and enables me to keep up with my friends at school and transfer easily to chairs and sports wheelchairs. This year is just fantastic – my sports are all going really well and I am so happy to be carrying the Olympic torch. I hope to be able to representGreat Britainin the Paralympics atRioin 2016!”
Newlife works with the families of young people, aged from 0 to 19, with a wide range of conditions, whether inborn or acquired through illness or injury.
The national Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 – offers information and practical support. is also the first point of contact to apply for a Newlife equipment grant for essential items such as wheelchairs, specialist beds, buggies, walking and standing frames, seating systems, portable hoists, safety equipment and communication aids.
The charity’s Just Can’t Wait service aims to provide essential equipment, free of charge, to families of life-limited children within 72 hours of supported applications being approved. And Newlife has, to date, invested £12million in medical research to help understand, prevent, combat and treat inborn conditions.
But the charity is experiencing hugely increased demands on its resources; calls to the Newlife Nurse helpline have shot up by 70 per cent, with thousands more hits on the charity’s website www.newlifecharity.co.uk
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Because of the huge demand, we are calling on ‘local heroes’ to help us raise money to fund equipment. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to help disabled children in areas specified by the donors themselves.”
Sheila added: “Our equipment grants are so vital to so many children, offering practical support to families in need. Equipment that costs from hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise a child’s life.”
If you think you can help, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.
Pictured: Alex Jordan.
Pictured: Thomas Bolton.
Pictured: Charlotte Moore.