Stocker's Strides Challenge Between March and July 2016 Shaun will be walking 100km (2 meters for every £1 raised) on my new prosthetic implants in order give a goal for my rehabilitation during 2015 and to raise funds and awareness for Blind Veterans UK, who have supported him in adapting to a life after sight and limb-loss.
Who is ShaunStocker? In 2007 Fus. Shaun Stocker joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, an Infantry regiment in the British Army. On 11 April 2010, aged just 19 years old and only 6 days before the end of his tour of Afghanistan, Shaun stepped on an Improvised Explosive Devise and his life changed forever, becoming a blind double amputee.
Shaun’s Story “As well as losing both legs above the knee I lost my left eye and the vision in my right eye. I badly damaged my left hand and I lost my little finger. I also dislocated and fractured my left shoulder and was sprayed with shrapnel all over my face and body. After 8 weeks in an induced coma and approximately 40 operations over a 3 month period while hospitalised, I was transferred to Headley Court (Defense Medical Rehabilitation Centre), where I learned just how problematic my rehabilitationwas going to be and heard for the first time the stark reality that due to thecombination of injuries I had received I may never be able to walk again. For other amputees the information they gained via seeing the surfaces and terrain they are walking on filled in the gaps created by the loss of sensation. Despite this news I was determined to regain my independence and began taking my first steps using prosthetics. I originally started walking on limbs with no eyesight at all which was really scary. I worked very hard at walking on slopes, stairs and walking outdoors. I tried again and again and eventually cracked the techniques required for me to receive above knee prosthesis by reading the affect my movements had on the rest of my body. Shortly after arriving at Headley Court I underwent an operation on my right eye and after 3 years this slowly helped me gain 30% vision back in this eye. This was a massive bonus which improved my walking.
Until recently the biggest problem facing me was the pain caused by using my prosthetics - rubbing, sores, cuts, falling off them, etc. This meant that I couldn’t walk very far without problems occurring. Any type of long distance travel forced me to use my wheelchair. The pain was the only thing holding me back from leading a life using only prosthetic limbs to get around. On 28 November 2014 I flew to Australia to undergo an operation called Osseointegration, which was performed by a surgeon at the Macquarie University Hospital who is a leader in this medical field. Osseointegration is an operation that involves titanium rods being implanted into the stumps so that prosthetics can be attached to them rather than having to use the hard carbon fibersockets that cause a lot of the problems I’ve previously outlined.
I am currently in a period of rehabilitation, learning to use the new prosthetics and building my strength in order to walk long distances with no pain for the first time since I was 19 years old. I will be able to connect my prosthesis straight to the implant which will make the limb part of my skeletal structure. There will be no pain in walking and a higher sense of feeling which will compliment my vision loss. I’ve become quite good on my new limbs, despite my sight-loss, particularly after receiving mobility training with Blind Veterans UK, a charity that provides rehabilitation, training and emotional support to ensure blinded ex-service personnel like me are able to build a life beyond sight-loss.
Why Shaun is undertaking this challenge I would like an opportunity to give back to Blind Veterans UK, who have helped me so much since I became a member in 2010 shortly after my Injury. I can personally say losing my limbs is hard to live with but losing my sight is harder. The best way to describe the vision in my remaining eye is this - Imagine your central vision is grey and the peripheral surrounding it as looking through anextremely scratched pair of glasses coated in oil. This prevents me from seeing any particular shape or object clearly. When in bright light or darkened conditions the affect is heightened. My lack of vision also means I have no sense of depth perception and really have to think ahead when making anymovement, which until receiving mobility training from Blind Veterans UK was a real problem for me when trying to walk with my prosthetics.
Blind Veterans UKhave helped me to live a fulfilling and independent life. They have helped witha number of courses including a web design course to create a website formotivational speaking, (www.shaunstocker.co.uk). They haveprovided me with equipment to read letters, specialist computer equipment, gymequipment which is essential to keeping me strong for my prosthetic use.
Blind Veterans UK will continue to be there for me through all of life’s events, including one very important and exciting challenge I will face in 2016 - bringing up my son Theo, who was born Christmas Day 2015! I would never have imagined being in the position I am in now when I was first injured and I thank Blind Veterans UK for all their support.
From my own personal experience I have noticed that sometimes only the obvious disabilities that can be seen are recognised. If I can use what has happened to me in order to ensure Blind Veterans UK is able to continue supporting people like myselft hen all the better.
Being able to walk with no pain will open new doors for me but the rehabilitation will not be easy. I need to set myself goals and targets. It will take a year for my wounds to fully heal. My plan is to spend 2015 fundraising and raising awareness of Blind Veterans UK via sharing the story of my journey on my website (www.shaunstocker.co.uk) while letting the bone heal,with the aim to undertake the physical element of my challenge in March - July 2016.
The fundraising element of my challenge coincides with the centenary year of the establishment of the charity. This why I am setting myself the target to walk 2 meters forevery £1 raised, with an overall target of 100km.
How you can support Shaun You can support me in my challenge in the following ways;
Make a donation: Any donation isgreatly appreciated and will not only help Blind Veterans UK continue their work but also help keep me focused on my rehabilitation and completing mychallenge when times get tough.
Corporate Donations: Perhaps you work for a company that could match fund or make a donation? If you can help in this way contact the Regional Fundraiser who is supporting me in my challenge email@example.com
Spread the word!: Sharing a link to my Just Giving Page on your social media pages.
Join me in my challenge: Members of the public will be able to join me on a number of the Walks I will be undertaking, by signing up for Sighted Guide Walks or Super Hero Sprints. Visit http://www.blindveterans.org.uk/how-you-can-help/events/stockers-strides/ to find out more. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to organise your own event.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.