Already an accomplished singer and guest judge on the new Saturday BBC1 show, All Together Now, Simon, has now set his eyes on one of his biggest challenges yet; to take on the London Marathon wearing the revolutionary ReWalk exo-suit
In April 2013 Simon’s life was turned upside down. The talented singer was hospitalised after losing feeling and movement from the waist down. After months in hospital and numerous tests later, he was diagnosed with a neurological brain condition and a brain tumour.
Since then Simon has been training to walk with the exo-suit.
“Up until the point of diagnosis, life had been great, it has been hard to accept and deal with my life changing diagnosis. However, I continue to fight on, my wheelchair is now a part of me now like an expensive pair of shoes!
I could stay in bed and feel sorry for myself, but why waste the life I’ve been given, I’m going to live mine to the fullest.
I’ve always dreamt of taking part in the London Marathon, I never thought I’d get the opportunity again after my diagnosis. That was until ReWalk exoskeleton came into the picture. I aim to complete the marathon over two days approximately 35 hours.
I know it’s going to be a VERY difficult challenge for me mentally and physically. I’ve not walked in years, let alone walking for 26.2 miles, over a two-day period, most likely on very little sleep.
The challenges of the exo-suit
The ReWalk suit isn’t practically tricky to use, it’s more about the concentration and remembering what I need to do. As the suit will not work without my input of upper body movement.
I have to shift my body weight front to back, side to side, as required, in order for the suit to recognise my intention to walk, for it to mimic the walking motion. The suit supports my body weight; however, I have to support my weight using my core strength and also with the aid of the crutches.
I’ve learnt how to lean backwards and forwards in the suit, like a tipping motion. This is a vital skill to have for the marathon, due to huge amount of people taking part and the possibility of being knocked into.
I’m currently doing extra training in the gym, to improve my core and upper body strength as this is key to keeping myself upright and making sure my arms can withstand the constant strain they will be under.
No-one has to ‘hold’ on to the back of the suit. Although when partaking in the marathon my team will always only ever be a finger tips touch away.
The support team
I’ve such a strong support team who will be working closely with me, keeping me safe at all times. They are giving up much of their time to train and participate, without them I would not be able to do this.
Knowing I have my amazing team by my side and that I’m raising money for a wonderful challenge which is very close to my heart will make every second worth it.
I have many people who are helping me to make my dream come true, and I am very thankful. I only hope I can inspire others to reach for their dreams and to never give up hope, that anything is possible.
Bring on that finish line!