Shazz writes a blog on how she has chosen to fundraise for a wheelchair in a way that she feels comfortable. Using her voice and telling her story.
Focusing on Fundraising
As a person that has always strived to be seen as `normal` as the next person by living as normally as I could, I have always struggled with accepting help, but especially fund raising for myself. I have raised money for animals, braved the shave where I raised £530.95 for MacMillan, and this year £209.20 for the Samaritans Brew Monday.
Let`s face it us OI crew are not all built the same, and most of us are not built like your average Joe. I myself am only 125cms/4.2”, with my barrel chest and S shaped spine, even after being shish kebabbed at 15ys in RNOH Stanmore. As a child I had big hands and long arms and was told I would have been 5.9”, how disappointed was I when all I wanted was to reach 5 feet!
The right equipment
I had an NHS wheelchair as a child but only used it if necessary. When I became a full-time wheelchair user I was assessed and given another NHS wheelchair, but it caused me increasing pain in my neck and shoulders because it wasn`t the right size. The wheels were too big, I was constantly rolling my shoulders to push myself round. Then our amazing BBS stepped in, and before I knew it, I was measured and kitted out with a light weight and beautifully yellow set of wheels.
Ten years ago, my wheelchairs had had good lives, and been very well used for holidays, dog walking and chasing after my son, stepson and nephews. I began fundraising to help the BBS raise the money, and my friends and the village I live in wanted to help. I am from that generation of the collection box statues of a child with a caliper on their leg that stood outside shops looking sad. As a child being close to those child sized statues it raised shame within me, a lump in my throat; I knew at that time that`s how people saw children like me, as something to be pitied. With this feeling never fading, I try to mask the uncomfortable feeling of any fundraising being about me by placing all the focus on about helping the BBS, which to me it is. However, the village organisers put up my picture, my name, my story with phrases and words that made me cringe; when I pointed out how uncomfortable I felt about it all I was told not `to be silly, that it was a good thing. `
That was ten years ago. I had my indoor manual wheels replaced last year by the BBS; now my outdoor Salsa is starting to show wear n` tear and has been unpredictable when out. Without all the fanfare and drawing attention to myself I am quietly raising money to help and have so far raised £580. My local NHS wheelchair service gave me a voucher last year for my manual, and there`s only one voucher per five years for only one wheelchair, so that`s more money to raise. The clinic won`t provide a OT assessment because it`s for a private wheelchair and not an NHS one, so that`s even more money to raise. I have done one radio interview, but they failed to put up the fundraiser on their website, and on 23rd June 2022, I do another radio interview for another local station.
I am in control of steering the conversation, with my voice I can show who I am and that I am a strong minded, intelligent human being and that I am fundraising for the charity that helps us all to keep our independence and dignity. It`s a fine line to jump off the pity train but still maintain the momentum for the equipment we all need to live our lives, but if we all do it in ways that still keeps us comfortable and seen as individuals, then we are doing great!