Siblings with a rare genetic nerve condition which affects up to just 1 in 77,000 people, are appealing for final donations by Tuesday 19 November 2019, towards our Disabled People Work Hard and Get Fit campaign.
Gym members Christine and Ken Lilley, who live with hereditary spastic paraplegia - which severely affects mobility and speech - have donated £200 to the initiative after receiving 'life-changing' treatment at Ability Bow.
The avid Arsenal Football Club fans are now urging around 10 more people to back the campaign and see the online fundraiser reach at least 100 backers; which could help us win up to £28,000 overall.
The pair, who live in Limehouse, were diagnosed five years ago after experiencing various symptoms such as severe bladder discomfort, spasticity (continued muscle straining), swallowing and balance issues when walking and felt they had ‘nowhere to turn’.
“All my life I knew something wasn’t right, Christine said. “I’d never felt coordinated at things like driving and felt so isolated and my physical symptoms had just developed from there, leaving me feeling down as my disability can appear hidden to those who don't experience it.”
Christine and Ken - who says he doesn’t know if he ‘would cope without Ability Bow and Christine’ - were then able to join the disability exercise service - which has helped more than 4,000 disabled people since opening in 2006 - in 2015 and 2014 respectively.
No Longer A Burden
Regular donors to the gym, Ken adds: “When I was first diagnosed, I was regularly falling over after an accident eight to ten years ago which ruptured my ankle.
“I’d felt such a burden and lost a lot of interest in the things I love like walking or going to the cinema - but since being at Ability Bow, it gives me one true outlet to socialise and see people, as well as helping me to manage what I do have, with my condition.”
Living Without A Wheelchair
Working with the gym’s team of experienced disability-specialist personal fitness trainers, Ken says that thanks to their help, he believes he’s not yet had to move to a wheelchair and is able to still find tailored exercises to suit his condition, such as cardiovascular and muscle strengthening work on the treadmill.
“The trainers, team and gym members here are so supportive and a community and that’s why I really want people to donate to this online fundraising campaign, as Ability Bow helps work with every kind of disability and makes people be who they are; it gives people hope,” the 59-year old says.
The Campaign And Why It Matters
Ability Bow’s fundraising campaign (led by digital crowdfunding platform, Spacehive), has already benefitted from more than £15,500 of donations from more than 80 well-wishers. This includes a generous £10,000 of match-funding from London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council this week.
And having surpassed an initial 50 per cent target which makes the gym eligible to receive nearly £30,000 - including through some local community grants - Ability Bow director and founder Victoria Kent, says: “We’re so grateful to people like Christine and Ken for offering so much support for our gym and for urging others in the community to come together for a great cause.
“Without your help, we may never be able to provide the long-term one-to-one disability exercise sessions for people with complex health conditions like Chris and Ken’s, which we know those locally and across east London, vitally need.
“With a tough political and economic situation, we believe people can back something like this which is truly worthwhile; so we need people to give and share as widely as possible this weekend and until next Tuesday (19 November) to support disabled people to work hard and get fitter, for longer; thank you.”
Fund The Campaign
To fund the Disabled People Work Hard and Get Fit campaign:
Thank you so much for all your vital help and support so far!