SIX MEN AND A LITTLE LADY: HOW EIGHT-YEAR-OLD CHLOE INSPIRED A GROUP OF FRIENDS TO UNDERTAKE A GRUELLING CHALLENGE
When three-year old Chloe Taylor*, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, said that she wanted to become a ballerina, foster mum Louise Ellis was determined to help her achieve her dream. Despite being unable to stand or walk unaided, in 2014 Chloe became the first disabled child in the country to take and pass her pre-primary ballet award with the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance, impressing the judges so much that she was invited to visit the Royal Ballet in London.
In June and now aged eight, Chloe underwent a major operation to help her walk, potentially bringing her closer to fulfilling her ambition of dancing with other children. However, the two-year rehabilitation programme Chloe needs is set to cost £50,000 – a challenge which prompted foster brother-in-law Matthew Cox to persuade his friends to join him in a truly daunting challenge.
The friends will be running a 48 hour, non-stop, 271 mile run from Matthew’s house in St Just, Cornwall, through Bodmin, Taunton and Bristol all the way to Chloe’s home in Gloucester. The idea was born at Matthew’s wedding to Kelly, Chloe’s foster sister, in March 2016. Matthew explains:
“Chloe is just the most remarkable child. When Kelly and I got married she was our flower girl, and her determination, spirit, character and beautiful smile won everyone over. Her love of dancing also shone through and there were lots of jokes about how she needed better dance partners than us
“A couple of days after the wedding, my mates and I decided that we wanted to do something to help raise money for Chloe’s rehabilitation, which is so important in making sure that the operation was a success. We knew that the tougher the challenge, the more money we would raise, so we decided to run this enormous distance in a non-stop relay. The training is really hard, but all six of us are committed to doing what we can to help.”
In addition to Matt – a primary school teacher, the team is comprised of recruitment consultant Daniel Batemen (28), salesman Adam Nicholls (29), Lawn Tennis Association co-coordinator James Preston (28), school games organiser Daniel Lugg (30), and media strategist Ryan Forrester (29). The six men have set up a website and a Facebook page to promote the run and to document Chloe’s recovery after her operation.
The run will take place on 1st September 2016 and the group has already reached its target of raising £10,000. This will be added to a remarkable £27,564 already raised by Chloe’s foster family, who are carers with Compass Fostering. “Even with the £10,000 that we have raised so far, Chloe’s family still need to raise another £15,000 to pay for the rest of Chloe’s rehabilitation programme so there is still so much more to done,” said Daniel Batemen.
Explaining the importance of Chloe’s surgery and rehabilitation, foster mum Louise said:
“Chloe has been doing ballet since she came to live with us when she was three years old. She was always adamant she didn’t want to dance as a ‘disabled child’ – she just wanted to dance with other children. Sadly, it took us a while to find a ballet school to accept her; eventually, I found Linda Virgoe and her dance studio. Linda was totally committed from the start to fully integrate Chloe into the dance school. Chloe still attempts every movement as closely as her limbs will allow and performs yearly in the dance shows; she attends a mainstream school and always insists that no allowances are made for her disability.”
Referring to her surgery earlier this year, Louise continues: “Chloe has recovered really well from the operation but there is still a long way to go. The procedure is called Selective Dorsal Rizotomy (SDR) and its purpose was to improve the mobility in Chloe’s legs. The best outcome would be for her to be able to walk completely unaided but, without the equipment and support needed for the two-year rehabilitation programme, the operation will not enable her to live life to the full.”
“Her therapies since the operation include physiotherapy, time with a personal trainer to improve strength and conditioning with a personal trainer, swimming twice a week, and ‘hippo’ therapy (which is on a horse). It costs around £1000 a month to complete all her therapies and she is likely to need this for the next 2 years.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- *Chloe’s surname has been changed to protect her anonymity
- For interviews or photographs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you can support this challenge by running with them, provide physio, massage or cheer them on their last leg to Gloucester, the Ellis family would love to hear from you.
- Visit www.facebook.com/run4chloe to connect with them and to track the runner’s progress.
- To follow the runners’ progress, visit their Facebook page at http://gb.mapometer.com/running/route_4290927