A partially paralysed 24-year-old is set to take on a mammoth handcycle challengefrom the UK to Germany next month.
Alana Walker, who has cerebral palsy and is from Allerton, is set to ride an astonishing 250 miles in just 6 days from Bradford to Hamm (Bradford’s twin town)along with 27 other cyclists taking up the challenge. Yet after multiple surgeries and with no access to a handcycle, this was almost a challenge too far for sporty Alana tobe able to participate in.
She comments: “I’ve always loved taking part in sport despite my condition, even competing in the UK School Athletics Games, and discovered cycling whilst at university. With the handcycle that was available as part of their bike fleet I really had a new lease of life as I could take part at an equivalent level to my friends that regularly cycle.
“Unfortunately when I lost access to this handcycle as it was no longer available I needed to find a way of buying my own as I knew what a positive impact it was having on my physical rehabilitation.”
Alana applied to the national charity Children Today, that provides funding for specialised equipment for children and young people with disabilities under the age of 25 across the UK, and received her partly electrified handcycle just a few weeks later.
“I knew it was going to be a tough ask as many charities don’t provide funding for over 18s, so I was completely shocked when I found out Children Today had awarded me the grant as I knew it meant I could take part in this unbelievable challenge. My last operation was only in October so it is going to be tough but I’m ready for it!”, she adds.
Despite her cerebral palsy affecting her left eye and leg and leaving her left arm paralysed, Alana is happy to take on big sporting challenges like this ride and even abseiled down Bradford library last year. Now, as a Community Leader in the Choices 4 All project, she has used her personal experience to help engage the disabled community with cycling opportunities. She adds: “I love to be able to help inspire other young people with disabilities to get involved with exercise and physical activity and if I can help them gain the independence that I have been able to get from sport then that is very special indeed.”
For this ride Alana is fundraising for Bradford Disability Sport & Leisure (BDSL) which aims to provide disabled people with high quality sport and physical activity and who also helped facilitate getting her into hand cycling. They run various clubs and activities across the district every day of the week for over 400 people with disabilities.
To donate to Alana’s fundraising page visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Alana-Walker
If you know a child that needs funding for a specialised piece of equipment or would like to donate to Children Today’s work please visit www.childrentoday.org.uk