A DISABLED man who has had eight operations to help improve his ability to walk is taking on the ultimate physical challenge – climbing Africa’s highest mountain Mount Kilimanjaro.
David Law was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy aged just three and since then has been operated on numerous times to help him overcome the difficulties he has had with walking.
But despite this, determined David has signed up to climb the 5,895m mountain to raise funds for Smile For Life, a charity that supports young people affected by disabilities and learning difficulties in the North East.
The brave decision came after the 32-year-old began taking short walks with his family in 2014, desperately trying to fight his immobilising disability and determined not to let Cerebral Palsy rule him.
And just 18 months on David, who lives in Forest Hall, Newcastle, had signed up climb Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Smile For Life.
He said: “This is something I never thought I’d be able to do and I am determined to prove to myself and other disabled people that you can face physical challenges. It is going to be hard work but it will be worth it.
“In school I always stayed away from the physical subjects and stuck to the more academic ones where I could sit at a desk, write or draw.
“It served me well as I now design for a living, but I hated the label ‘disabled’, it seemed so negative. I had a mobility car aged 16 and was in receipt of disability benefits, so to me and society I was disabled – but I didn’t want it to define me.
“Then when I was in France my father-in-law, who is a retired GP, suggested a short walk of 1.5km to a local waterfall which involved some rather rocky trails and short stretches of scrambling. It was agony but I did it.
“As soon as I returned home I cancelled all of my motability and disability benefits and began looking for the next physical challenge.”
David’s landmark discovery that he could push himself spurred him on to try other physical activities like basketball, walking and cycling, all under the supervision of his physio – but he still wanted more.
The Technical Services Manager for Xtralight added: “My friend James was doing the Mount Kilimanjaro trek for Smile For Life and it sounded just what I was looking for.
“I had not come across Smile For Life before and think I could have really benefitted from a charity like them as a youngster. There was nothing out there like them when I was growing up.
“The idea that the money raised will help other kids affected by a disability like I was makes me even more motivated to do it.”
David and his friends have organised an African-themed ball at the Marriott hotel, Gosforth Park, on Friday May 27th to help raise much-needed cash for Smile For Life.
The glitzy bash is £45 a ticket which includes a three-course meal, live band, African drummers and games. All money raised will go towards the fundraising trek to Mount Kilimanjaro in October 2016.
“I have always loved music so the idea of a ball came from there really. We really hope that as many people as possible buy a ticket and come along, it will be a great night to support a great cause.
“I want to raise a big amount of money for Smile For Life, I know where it will go and who it will help and this is even more motivation than the initial personal challenge I set out to find,” said David.
Paula Gascoigne, Chief Executive of Smile For Life, says David is an inspiration to others.
She said: “We are delighted and privileged that David is joining us on our Kilimanjaro trek.
“I know he has given this a great deal of thought and the training he is undergoing is intense, but he is truly committed.
“David’s determination is inspiring to the children and young people that we support – many of whom have Cerebral Palsy.
“The fact that David is not letting this stop him from reaching his goal proves to our young people that even with a disability, there are no boundaries.”
For tickets to the African ball fundraiser at the Marriott hotel, Gosforth, go to facebook.com/kili20sixteen or www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/210383