A blind teenager has said he wants his story to inspire others after being in a team of seven who raised a staggering £8.5million for BBC’s Children in Need last month.
17-year-old Kelsey, from Watford took part in The Rickshaw Challenge 2019 with five other young people and The One Show’s Matt Baker and completed a gruelling eight-day challenge cycling 400 miles across the UK.
Speaking to the magazine, Kelsey said: “Taking part in this year’s Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. As the first blind rider on the Rickshaw, the experience allowed me to prove to myself, and to those around me, that my disability is not a barrier to me achieving whatever I put my mind to.
“I hope that by completing the challenge, I can share this with other people, especially those in a similar situation to myself. Whilst there were difficult parts to the challenge — the early starts, for one, and the less-than-pleasant weather conditions — the positivity, encouragement and support from the whole team kept me going, and ensured that we all made it to Elstree with smiles on our faces.
“Being able to spend my week with such an amazing group of people was easily the best part of the challenge, and the final total of £8.5m is still entirely overwhelming to me, especially when I think of how many Children in Need funded projects, and ultimately children themselves, will be able to benefit from this, in the same way that I benefited from a Children in Need funded project myself.”
As a baby, Kelsey lost his left eye after being diagnosed with cancer and lost his right eye at the age of five after the cancer returned.
Despite this, Kelsey hasn’t given up and wanted to give back to the charity which changed his life.
On the challenge, Matt guided Kelsey with the directions while they both cycled together as they were both attached to the same bike.
Kelsey added: “It’s only as I have got older, I think I have realised the implications of being blind. It’s often the little things, pouring water onto my hand from a boiling kettle or trying to find a door handle on a door. But it’s also how I am perceived. When people start to doubt you, it’s sometimes hard to start doubting yourself. This where Children in Need made such a huge difference in my life.”
The Rickshaw Challenge raised a remarkable £5.5million along the way. Sir Tom Hunter and Lady Marion Hunter joined the team on the stage to celebrate the incredible total.
The Hunter Foundation pledged to give 40p for every £1 donated by the public, but generously announced they were donating £3million, bringing the overall total to a whopping £8.5million.