Appeal launched to help teenager with his Paralympic dream

Grantham teenager Luke Holland, with TV presenter and former Paralympic GB wheelchair player Ade Adepitan, who is trying to raise �4,000 for a specialised wheelchair to compete in the sport EMN-161209-101958001
Grantham teenager Luke Holland, with TV presenter and former Paralympic GB wheelchair player Ade Adepitan, who is trying to raise �4,000 for a specialised wheelchair to compete in the sport EMN-161209-101958001
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An appeal to raise £4,000 has been launched to pay for a specialised wheelchair to help a Grantham teenager achieve his team of competing for Great Britain in the Paralympics.

Luke Holland (14), who has cerebral palsy, has already enjoyed success in wheelchair basketball at national junior level.

But The King’s School pupil, who plays for Newark Jaguars Under 15s and is a member of the East Midlands regional squad, fears he may have to give up the sport unless he can start using his own adapted chair for training and matches.

A special wheelchair would help improve his agility and speed on court but the £4,049 cost is too expensive for his family.

His mum Liz said: “In order to play, Luke has to borrow a wheelchair from his club. This is far from ideal as is doesn’t fit him properly and currently it’s being held together with tape.

“The club is growing quickly and they simply can’t afford to buy a specialist wheelchair for each player. Luke would be heartbroken if he had to give up the game as it means everything to him.”

In a bid to raise the money to buy the chair, Liz has started a fundraising campaign, with a dedicated Just Giving page online.

And she’s appealing to businesses and individuals to contribute money to help pay for the chair.

Liz said: “Wheelchair basketball doesn’t just benefit Luke physically, it’s also given him pride, confidence and self-esteem, which has helped him do well at school.

“He’s such a dedicated and determined boy who lets nothing get in his way.

“He makes the 34-mile round trip to Newark to play for four hours every Saturday, does the same distance to Lincoln each Monday to train for one and a half hours, and goes back to Newark again on a Wednesday for another two hours training.

“When he finishes a game he does feel some pain, and he’s exhausted, but it has real benefits in terms of his strength and stamina. I just hope the public support his appeal.”

Luke has been playing wheelchair basketball since he was 10. He won a silver medal last month with the East Midlands squad at the prestigious Lord’s Taverners National Junior Championship, at the University of Worcester.

Luke recently met former Paralympic GB wheelchair basketball athlete Ade Adepitan, who is presenting the Channel 4 television coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympics, and he was inspired by him.

Luke said: “I want to get into the National League. If I can do that I believe that one day I could force my way into the Paralympic GB team.

“Wheelchair basketball keeps me fit and has introduced me to new friends and given me independence and confidence.

“The thought of being unable to play the game is unbearable.”

The fundraising campaign is being supported by Caudwell Children, a national charity which provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.

Chief executive Trudi Beswick said: “I’m urging the public and business community to get behind this appeal. With their support we can ensure that Luke has the specialist equipment that he so desperately needs and deserves to continue in the game.”

To support in his fundraising effort go online to www.justgiving.com/chair4luke or donate by texting JAGS55 £amount to 70070.