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Matthew (left) and Sophie (centre) pictured with their parents

Sophie was 16 when she was suddenly taken ill in December of 2011. A blood clot had developed on her spinal cord leaving her paralysed from the waist down. She was diagnosed with Cobb Syndrome and told that she would never be able to use her legs again.

This young girl, who had always been sporty and active, was about to have her world turned upside down. Suddenly Sophie was a permanent wheelchair user. She spent over 6 months in the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre learning how to use her wheelchair and to come to terms with her disability. She was given a manual wheelchair that gave her independence in the home.  However, Sophie was reliant on her friends or family for getting outdoors.

Matthews says: “Honestly watching my little sister and the rest of my family go through the change of watching Sophie play football one week to being immobile the next was immensely heart-breaking. Especially at the age of 16, for any teenager I could never imagine what this would feel like.”

Matthew and his family are so grateful for the amount of support they have received from others during this time. The most support coming from Variety. Variety is a children’s charity, focused on changing the lives of children who suffer from illness and disability or come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Matthew (left) and Sophie (centre) pictured with their mother

In Sophie’s case, Variety was able to provide her with a wheelchair tailored to her needs. The charity works closely with medical advisors and wheelchair technicians to ensure that every wheelchair is customised to the child.

In 2014, 89 wheelchairs were provided across the UK which meaning, Variety funds a wheelchair for a child every 4 days.

Sophie was provided with the Quickie Salsa Power wheelchair just before Christmas 2012 and it has increased her independence immensely. She is now able to attend college, go shopping and enjoy her favourite activity, walking her pet dog.

Matthew wants to help other children like Sophie and by running the London Marathon for Variety. He will be raising awareness and funds to monumentally make a difference to lives of other families in need.

Matthew comments: “No-one deserves to miss out on childhood and Variety do an extremely good job of giving the best support to young children and their families. Having seen the work Variety does, it has motivated me and has made me feel that the work they do needs to be continued.”

Matthew is aiming to raise £4,000 for Variety, he has set up a Virgin Money fundraising page, to donate please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=MattyB.

Sophie’s mother said:

“Her ‘youth’ was being stolen from her.  However, a year on, I can now see that Sophie can still do the majority of things her friends do, and through the generosity of those that have donated to the charity, her power chair will give her the opportunity to do and enjoy so much more that life has to offer.  Having a disabled child gives you a whole new perspective on life, and has made me see disability in a totally new light, and how important your [Variety] work is and what it means to the families and their lives that you help.”

Sophie is now a Young Ambassador for Variety and made her first appearance for them at “the PROPS” Launch on the 14 May 2013. Our valuable supporters from “the PROPS” were be able to meet her and get to see what a difference their donations have made to a young life.