Sunday, 27 April 2014

Challenged Athletes Approved and supported by Arctic one I'm a happy bunny

Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF)

Arctic One

                     Sometime ago I applied for funding for a running blade from an organisation called The Challenged Athletes Foundation. I decided to approach CAF on the advice of Scott Clark a prosthetist who works at Baker Orthotics and prosthetics in Dallas Fort Worth TX. I had been introduced to Scott via my good friend Shannon who receives treatment at their clinic.
So pretty much as soon as I got home from my trip I approached two people I really respect and admire to see if they would be willing to support me and write me a couple of good references.  Both my boss at work, Dan and Toby who has been my prosthetist at Pace Rehabilitation for some time now didn’t let me down and wrote me two of the most fantastic references, which really blew me away. Thanks guys for your support.

Probably a week or so after I had completed the online application to CAF I received a very nice email from one of CAF’s representatives. It went on to explain that unfortunately CAF couldn’t support my application as they didn’t fund International athletes at the moment. I was gutted, and informed both Dan and Toby thanking them very much for their support in being referee’s for me and their time in writing such glowing references. And so yet another “road block”. This isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last, yeah it does knock you back, however you just have to find something else to do or keep on trying, knocking on people’s doors so to speak.

A good month or so past and after I came in from work one day I was checking through my mails when I noticed I had one from Toby, entitled CAF and appt 11/4/14. I opened the mail and was very surprised and excited to read that Toby had gotten an email from CAF saying that I had actually been approved for a running blade. The blade being an Ossur Flex Run. WoW, awesome. I immediately mailed Toby back as I was so excited.

This is fantastic news for me as I have wanted to try and run for some time. Different people have said things like “Oh it’s really hard as an above knee”, or “it takes a lot of commitment” I totally understand this, however think everything I have done so far since having my amputation and of course being ill since 1995 has been a commitment. Some people climb Everest, or head off to really cold uninhabitable areas on expeditions and then there are other people whose biggest goal in life would be to walk 10 steps after suffering illness. I guess what I’m saying is this is a personal challenge for me. I know I’m not going to break any records, other than the ones I set myself, but I do think everyone should at least have the chance to be the best they can be. Unfortunately this isn’t always possible and I realise just how fortunate I have been to have had absolutely amazing support throughout the years, from people all over the world, whether that be words of support, friendly advice or indeed being sponsored on new pieces of technology and great design ideas.

And so this new path in my life is starting to evolve. There is lots of hard work to do as at the moment all I will have is basically is a foot, and well that in itself isn’t much good without the rest of the components to make it into a full running prosthesis.

Toby suggested it would be a good idea to contact a lovely gentleman named Matt Kirby who may be able to help with fund-raising ideas and also help me in gaining the required funds necessary to get me fitted up with a complete running set-up.Matt is the founder of the charity Arctic One. Arctic One was launched in November 2011 to coincide with Matt running the Antarctic Half marathon. And the Arctic one Foundation – Get involved, became a charity in its own right in October 2012.

I corresponded with Matt a few time via email, then we arranged a chat on the phone. To be honest it wasn’t the first time I had spoken to Matt. As I recall he had rang me around Christmas time about getting involved with Arctic One and at that time I was off to a works Christmas party so couldn’t talk. We then both just didn’t get around to getting back in touch. It’s sometimes funny how things turn out as if we are following some pre-destined path. Anyhoo Matt rang as he promised and I knew immediately that we would get along. Matt has this real passion when he talks and he comes across as being very supportive. One of the questions Matt asked was “are you sure you are committed to this”. I’ll be honest and quite often doubt myself. I hope I don’t come across as being big headed, however many people contact me through social media or read my blog and comment on how inspirational I am. Although I accept the lovely comments and I am very grateful I don’t see it as anything other than getting on with life and doing what I want to do. So again being honest yeah I’m a little scared in case I fail, however I’m also pretty damned stubborn or call it determined.
As I chatted with Matt and then on another occasion with both Matt and Bex Stubbings who is another of Arctic One’s trustees I agreed to join forces with them. Letting both Matt and Bex know that my aim was to increase more awareness where I live up in the North East. I have strong feelings that not enough is available here in our region and if by helping support Arctic One and Arctic One in turn supporting me, then may be hand in hand we can help create more opportunities and input for people in the North East.

So down to fund raising and idea’s, wow it’s tough as just about everyone appears to be doing something, whether that’s zip lining off a bridge, or parachuting out of a plane. Matt and Bex have suggested I take part in a triathlon.” Mmmm”  I thought, “yeah why not”. It will be a first for me, something that both excites me and scares the pants off me. I’m not entirely sure how I will complete the running section as I can’t manage much more than a steady walk with my current NHS limb, however I’m willing to give it a go.

Last week I headed to my local swimming pool, Derwentside Leisure Centre I think it’s called, my friend John in tow. Boy was I nervous, this was the first proper swim I was about to have since having my leg off. I can honestly say the last time I swam other than a quick paddle in a pool whilst on my holidays last year was around 2 decades ago. I hate being on my crutches as I feel totally disabled, but no good being a wimp I’m on a mission now which I have chosen to accept. I don’t want to turn up at some lake and drown after all. I was very proud of my first swimming session, yeah it was a lot harder than I expected or imagined, however I managed 30 x 25 meter lengths, taking a few short stops and breaths.

On Thursday a pretty big box arrived for me, along with a thick envelope. Upon opening the box I found a couple of Arctic One mugs, water bottles, and two beanies. The envelope contained all the bumf relating to Arctic One, their goals, objectives and mission, also what events where going to be taking place.

Arctic One stuff has arrived
My Arctic One Gift Box

 And so I need to get myself in shape for August when I will be taking part in a triathlon and trying to raise as much awareness as I can as well as much needed funds. I’m hoping to do this through the use of my Facebook Group, Facebook Amputee’s and of course my blog, you the reader and my family, friends and work colleagues. 

At some point I would also like to come up with an idea to fund raise myself and will do this on behalf of Arctic One. Why fund raise for Arctic One you may ask when there are so many other worthy charities. Well simple really, for me Arctic One encapsulates a few things that are close to my heart. The fact that the charity isn’t all about raising money, it’s not all about elite athletes, it’s about ordinary folk of all abilities getting involved and active in the community (something I would like to see within the North East as I have mentioned) Introducing people to new sporting opportunities, regardless of ability. 

Arctic One also aim to support projects that contribute to cancer, in terms of research, treatment and cure and so this to hits a cord with me as I have a kind of cloud that can overshadow certain days if I allow it, in my Lymphoma.

Really it’s about making a difference, whether you are able bodied or disabled and I like this ethos.

So I am very proud to announce my involvement with Arctic One and you will be reading lots more blogs of my adventures involving them.

Oh and if anyone would like to leave comments on fund raising ideas, that would be much appreciated and totally awesome.




  1. Good luck Glenn you have Lees and my support always. I'll get my creative head on re fund raising ideas. Xxxx

  2. Aww thanks Michelle, much appreciated. That work both ways I had a nice chat with Lee the other day and I told him I there for you guys, anything I can do just let me know :) x