Gala night for former ice aceBy Becky Barnes
July 06, 2012
A young disabled man is fundraising to have medical treatment in America.
Simon Waller, 25, was once a successful athlete and figure skater, but has since seen his health deteriorate and was also the victim of a hit and run driver.
His mum Scott Waller said he always aimed high and was once an elite athlete, but had struggled with illness from an early age and at 14 was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
This illness causes severe pain, anaemia and fatigue, but he continued to train.
The skater and coach, from Crowthorne, trained at Bracknell Ice Rink from the age of 11 and represented Great Britain several times as well as being offered an immediate visa and sponsorship to represent Australia.
Simon also achieved 12 GCSEs and home-studied for five AS and four A-levels.
At 18, after winning silver in the British Junior Championships, Simon went to Los Angeles for extra training and was expected to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics. His mum Scott said: “Simon started to get really fatigued, lose concentration and experience dizziness even off the ice. He also found it hard to recover or sleep.”
Simon was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, which affects the adrenal gland and causes “relentless” insomnia and other difficult symptoms.
He was then knocked down by a hit and run driver while preparing for his comeback at the 2008 Australian Championship.
Scott said: “He also started collapsing a lot and the joint pain got exponentially worse.”
Simon focused on coaching and trained top skaters at several world championships. His mum added: “After becoming even more ill, he returned to Britain where he almost died in hospital last year where treatment also led to exacerbation of another condition.”
Simon was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, making his joints weak, and other illnesses which make him painfully fatigued.
The Simon Waller Fund was set up in April with a target of raising £10,000 and to raise money for his treatment, more than 40 top skaters will perform in a gala on tomorrow.
Keith Horton, chief executive of the National Ice Skating Association, said: “Simon was a real talent and an inspiration to the UK skating community.”
Simon said: “It means a lot to me there are people out there willing to reach out and extend their compassion to help people like me and I can only hope I can be well enough to make sure I pay back everyone who has helped.”
The gala will be at Planet Ice Arena, Basingstoke from 7.30pm. Tickets are £15 or £44 for a family of four. For more information or to buy tickets visit www.sk8basingstoke.co.uk/simonwaller or email firstname.lastname@example.org