Plymouth teenager Ash Jackson thanks Plymouth for keeping his paralympic dream alive
AN inspirational teenager born with serious abnormalities to his legs and spine has said a "big thank you" to those who have helped him edge closer to his dream.
In November The Herald told the story of 15-year-old Ash Jackson, from Plymstock, who wanted to become one of the country's next Paralympians in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Ash was born with lower limb arthrogryposis which meant he had a curvature to his spine, talipes – meaning his feet were back to front – a dislocated right hip and a fixed extension of the right knee.
His parents were told he would never walk.
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But after 14 operations – nearly one for every year of his life – Ash defied all the odds, astounded health professionals and set his sights on taking up hand-cycling and becoming the city's next top Paralympian.
And the city has once again rallied together to raise almost all of the money needed to get Ash his very own hand-cycle which will allow him to try out for the next Paralympic Games.
Ash said: "I'm so happy. My bike has now been ordered and my dream is getting a little bit closer. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated money to help me get my bike."
So far Ash has raised £4,000 towards the £5,500 total of the cost of the hand-cycle – all from kind-hearted city people.
Ash's Ride to Rio, an event held at the end of last year at the Radford Family Centre, in Plymstock, raised £1,500.
Over 100 people attended the event where they were treated to entertainment from David Andrews magic, face painting, a raffle with prizes donated from local businesses, and a special auction where a signed Tom Daley T-shirt was snapped up.
Triple amputee Mark Ormrod, who has supported Ash from the beginning, also attended the event along with Ash's step dad Graham who had returned home from a seven-month tour in Afghanistan that evening.
Louise, Ash's mum, said: "The support we have had has been fantastic and I can't thank people enough. The evening was very special for many reasons, and I would like to thank everyone for showing their support, especially the Radford ladies because without them the evening wouldn't have happened."
Ash also recently received a £2,000 donation towards the cycle from The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children's Fund.
Other donations have included those from staff at Beaumont Villa doctor's surgery and Peverell Methodist Church.
Louise said: "We are £1,500 away from the £5,500 we needed to get the bike, but I've had to order it anyway because Ash needs to get training for his first proper race in April and it takes five weeks to build."
Louise hopes to raise the outstanding £1,500, which she has borrowed, from a fundraising evening being hosted for Ash at the New Continental Hotel in April.
The black tie evening, taking place on April 17 from 7.30pm, costs £25 which includes a three course set dinner, wine on the table, drinks on arrival, a raffle, auction and live entertainment.
For tickets contact Louise at email@example.com.