Stevenage paramedic's charity headshave in support of disabled gymnast friend
PUBLISHED: 21:48 09 May 2017
A paramedic has had his head shaved to raise money for a charity which supports his disabled gymnast friend, who is literally allergic to exercise.
Sam Harrison, who works for the East of England Ambulance Service and is based in Stevenage, had his head shaved to raise £1,275 for disability charity Scope.
His friend Natasha Coates, 22, is an elite disability gymnast who has a life-threatening condition called mast cell activation syndrome.
Sam, who first met Natasha while volunteering for St John Ambulance four years ago, said: “This is a rare, life-threatening immunological disorder, which affects Natasha’s mast cells - a type of white blood cell.
“These cells normally help protect you from disease by releasing chemicals, but in people like Natasha the release of those chemicals can happen even when there is no attack. And, if there is an attack, the release is out-of-proportion and too many chemicals are spilled out.
“This causes Natasha to have allergic reactions to many things, including exercise, as well as chronic symptoms daily.
“One of these symptoms is hair loss, so I decided what better way to support Natasha and fundraise for this amazing charity than by shaving my head?
“Natasha is an amazing person and I am constantly amazed at her positive outlook.”
Since Natasha was diagnosed four years ago, she has had more than 250 life-threatening episodes and has to be very cautious with gymnastics training.
Scope has particularly supported Natasha by providing her with a platform to raise awareness of her condition.
Natasha said: “I would give anything to walk away from the hell mast cell activation syndrome puts me though on a daily basis.
“My friends hold my hand when I fight for my life. I experience some frightening reactions, but I can’t begin to imagine what they go through as a witness.
“I’m not sure I could watch a friend dying right before me and hold back the tears, yet somehow my friends do.
“They are my strength when I am weak and I know will be by my side until the very end.”
To support Sam’s headshave, visit www.justgiving.com/Sam-Harrison18