You probably remember a recent BBC clip, of a disabled athlete dragging himself through Luton Airport? What you may not know is that after the incident (which happened way back in the Summer of 2017) the athlete, Justin Levene, spent a whole year trying to convince the airport to change its policy and offer better help to disabled travellers. When being reasonable failed, Justin, as a committed activist for disabled rights, had little choice but to go public and release the footage. As the Guardian reported at the time ‘Every cause needs a flame to ignite it.’ You will not be surprised to hear that Luton Airport now has a much more helpful policy and procedures in place for disabled travellers, thanks to Justin!
If you would like to know more about that incident, please watch the interview with Justin on Good Morning Britain: it shows two highly articulate and active athletes, doing everything they can to obtain normal public services for people with disability.
So here is the story we really want to tell. We really hope you will support it!
Just 2 days before his 21st birthday, Justin Levene coughed and ended up with a herniated and prolapsed disc. Several failed operations down the line, he was told he would never walk again and has been in a wheelchair ever since.
Literally floored by this unbelievable quirk of fate Justin took a while to come to terms with it. Through confronting the trauma, though, he developed a profound, new outlook on life and now uses the event as a catalyst to help both himself and others. He is currently an ambassador for several charities and works tirelessly to see fair treatment for everyone: educating others and mentoring newly injured patients and soldiers, ensuring that everyone can have the skills needed to live successful and independent lives. Earlier this year, he became our ambassador in Moldova, to support vulnerable children and adults who rarely get the opportunity to take part in outdoor activities and sports. He does all this without renumeration because he is passionate about motivating others and helping them to live active and independent lives.
As sport had always been a key feature of Justin's life; once he became wheelchair-bound, it became both his lifeline and his career. In the last 10 years he has turned his life around, first through wheelchair basketball and then wheelchair racing. He now trains daily (up to 6 hours a day) and competes in international marathons with a view to regaining the ranking he had back in 2016. At the moment, however Justin doesn't possess a racing chair and if he is to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020 he needs one NOW!
How did that come about? Well, to add insult to injury, while training for the Rio Paralympics in 2016, Justin was knocked down by a taxi in London. In that one accident, he lost his wheelchair, his sponsorship and his chance of a medal.
So, Justin needs the bespoke racing chair NOW in order to train and compete successfullly, in the main international marathons of 2019. This will establish his ranking and give him a chance of selection to team GB.
As it takes several months from order to delivery of the bespoke chair, the sooner we raise the money, the better.
If you are able to help, PLEASE make a Christmas donation. We have a range of rewards for everyone who donates and we shall be running a series of fund raising activities in the New Year, so please leave your details on the website so we can stay in touch during 2019.