A teenager from Great Hale is raising funds in the hope of representing Great Britain at a world figure skating event in the US later this year.
Leah Hall, 17, says it would mean ‘everything’ to her to compete at the world championships for inclusive figure skating in Vail, Colorado, in September.
To do so, though, she needs to raise in the region of £4,000 to pay for the cost of the trip.
Inclusive figure skating is a version of the sport aimed at people who have a physical or mental impairment of some kind.
Leah has polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, meaning an inflammation of five or more joints – Leah has it in 32.
The Carre’s Grammar School student, who first took up figure skating when she was eight, was hit by the condition in April 2016 when she was 15.
It would go on to see her lose the use of her legs and, eventually, her whole body.
“I was unable to do anything for myself for around three months,” she said. “I couldn’t feed myself, dress myself and I was unable to sleep for more than an hour due to the pain, and painkillers were not doing the trick.”
Initial treatment proved unsuccessful and in June of that year, Leah was told she would be lucky if she walked unassisted again.
Leah, however, did walk unassisted again – from November of that year – and a new course of treatment in May of last year brought further improvements for her.
She said: “In today’s terms, I am only really in pain if I have done something excessive, actually, such as skating. In a day-to-day life, it is mostly at the end of the day, I am physically tired and take a long time to recover after the day has finished.”
In terms of figure skating, she says it places limits on her flexibility and stamina. However, it has failed to prevent her from collecting honours.
Last year, she came home from the national championships for her sport, with a gold and two silvers.
Asked what made her return to the sport, despite the pain, she said: “I guess what made me get on the ice again was that it’s the only sport that I have felt that I can be myself, really enjoy myself. At the time, I did netball for Boston, and I’d previously done gymnastics and I felt that skating was something different that I could do, that no one else could.
“It was unique. I still firmly believe that skating was the main catalyst for my journey to walking again as it built up the muscle easier than physiotherapy and hydrotherapy ever did.”
To support Leah in her fundraising, email firstname.lastname@example.org