Appeal to replace Hitchin boy’s broken wheelchair

PUBLISHED: 15:07 26 April 2018

Jack Gower took part in the Mini London Wheelchair Marathon on Sunday. Picture: Ella Gower.

Jack Gower took part in the Mini London Wheelchair Marathon on Sunday. Picture: Ella Gower.

Archant

An appeal has been launched to fund a wheelchair for a 12-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy, after the one he was using during a mini marathon on Sunday broke and two strangers achieved a temporary fix so he could still cross the finish line.

A police officer stopped to help repair Jack's wheelchair so he could finish the race. Picture: Ella Gower. A police officer stopped to help repair Jack's wheelchair so he could finish the race. Picture: Ella Gower.

Jack Gower, who lives in Stotfold Road in Hitchin, has spastic paraplegic cerebral palsy – a condition which makes his limbs extremely stiff.

In a bid to walk independently, Jack had a life-changing operation at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital in July 2015 to sever the nerves carrying signals to the brain which cause the muscles to permanently tighten.

Following intensive physiotherapy, he became able to walk, but still needs to use a wheelchair for longer distances.

Jack’s mum, Ella, said: “Surgery was the best thing we ever did. Jack’s maintained all the ability he gained from the operation and his muscles are developing and not wasting away.

Hitchin's Jack Gower is wearing his medal with pride. Picture: Ella Gower. Hitchin's Jack Gower is wearing his medal with pride. Picture: Ella Gower.

“His walking will never be perfect, but he’s like a different child and is so much more able than before. The wheelchair will always be part of his life for distances though.”

Jack has recently discovered a love of wheelchair athletics and since January has enjoyed weekly training sessions at Ridlins in Stevenage and has become a member of the Stevenage and North Herts Athletics Club.

On Sunday, he took part in the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Wheelchair Marathon, but part-way round he went to propel forward and the footplate his feet were strapped to snapped off.

A police officer and steward came to his rescue, improvising to reattach the footplate so Jack could continue.

Jack Gower completed the Mini London Wheelchair Marathon despite his wheelchair breaking. Picture: Ella Gower. Jack Gower completed the Mini London Wheelchair Marathon despite his wheelchair breaking. Picture: Ella Gower.

Ella said: “Thanks to their quick-thinking they managed to tie Jack’s footplate up and he was able to complete the race.

“He absolutely loved it and said the crowd was incredible. It’s so good to see him so passionate about something.”

But Jack has now been left with a broken racing wheelchair, which actually belongs to the club and is too big for him anyway, so his family are looking to raise £1,000 towards buying him his own racing wheelchair so he can continue to train.

If you would like to support the cause, you can visit www.gofundme.com/jacks-new-wheels to make a donation.

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