Thursday, 10 April 2008

Spinal injury victim completes 22-mile charity swim

A TEENAGER who was told she would never walk again after a horrific diving accident left her completely paralysed has raised £1,000 in a "channel swim".

Madeleine Leftwich sustained a spinal injury in 2006, when she dived into a pool at her aunt's house.

The teenager, who was 15 years old at the time, was told that she would probably never walk again, but after having her vertebrae rebuilt and with lots of rehabilitation and determination Madeleine is now walking and enjoying an active lifestyle.

Madeleine took part in the Aspire Channel Swim, a sponsored swimming event for the leading spinal cord injury charity Aspire to swim the distance of the English Channel.

She gave herself 12 weeks to swim the entire 22 miles of the English Channel in the Next Generation Club's swimming pool, in Hull Road, York. The 17-year-old, from Heworth, said: "It was a really tough challenge, but it was definitely worth it.

"The health benefits are great, I feel so much fitter. I managed to raise £1,000 and my school raised £1,000 as well."

Bootham School, where Madeleine is studying for her A-levels, nominated Aspire as its charity of the term last year. The school's donation helped Madeleine reach her £1,000 target.

By completing the event she raised £1,000 and become the top highest individual Aspire Channel Swim fundraiser. The charity has rewarded Madeleine with a Keycamp holiday for her effort.

Meanwhile, Madeleine's mum recently completed a swim in Lake Geneva on behalf of Aspire. She swam 8.4km and managed to raise more than £5,000.

Aspire's Rosie Cotton said: "The Aspire Channel Swim is the biggest fundraising event in the charity's calendar as it raises a substantial amount of urgently needed funding for people with spinal cord injuries and helps us in our mission to enable them to lead more independent and fulfilled lives.

"At the same time it gives the public the opportunity to participate in a really good challenge and to take responsibility for their own health as they get fitter and trimmer with each lap they swim."

The Aspire Channel Swim is now in its ninth year, and hopes to raise in excess of £500,000 for the Aspire charity this year.

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