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Brave Ben gets ready to take a massive leap

A GORING man who has been diagnosed with a condition that has baffled doctors has decided to jump 10,000 feet out of a plane for charity.

Ben Wait, 33, said he wanted to do the charity skydive while he has the ability to do so, having been diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia.

Ataxia is the name given to a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, co-ordination and speech and ‘ataxia’ itself means lack of order.

Ben said: “I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone, lots of the normal ways of fundraising I cannot actually do and after speaking to my doctor they said this was actually one of the safest options for me.”

Ben said other types of fundraising such as cycling, swimming or running are not possible due to his lack of balance as a symptom of ataxia.

The skydive is taking place in Maidstone Airfield on October 29 and so far Ben has raised £224.50 towards his £1,000 goal.

Ben is raising money for Ataxia UK, a charity which funds research into safe, effective treatments and research for a cure.

With 12 paid staff and a range of volunteers, the charity aims to provide support to those affected by ataxia and their families.

Ben said the charity’s website was a ‘beautiful tool’ and when he found out officially that he had cerebellar ataxia the website was very clear and helped him understand his disorder.

“It is the knowledge and understanding, so when people ask you, you feel more confident in explaining it,” said Ben.

Ben started having tests last January after he noticed that he was falling over more than usual and shaking when he was carrying cups of tea and coffee. In June this year, his doctors determined he had ataxia but said unlike the majority of cases, it was not genetic or as a symptom of other underlying conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Ben said: “The doctors says it is an enigma, I have fallen into a void and they don’t know how I have it.”

Ben said his symptoms have started to affect every element of his daily life.

He said: “I just get embarrassed with it really, when I am out with people or at home, I cannot do things like I could 10 years ago.

“My balance is very all over the place. I cannot walk in a straight line and that affects my confidence. If I go to a football match, I cannot sit at the back. I cannot manage steep steps or hills either.

“Also, my speech sometimes is very delayed or very rushed, I try to get too many words out at the same time.”

Ben said he did not know what the future held in terms of the progressive condition but he said there was a chance he could have to use a wheelchair.

The concept of jumping out of a plane and falling for a mile before his parachute opens is one that Ben admitted he did not relish, but the motivation to help the charity in any way he can is spurred on by the progressive nature of his symptoms.

He said: “I want to take the opportunity to do something worthwhile for the charity while I have got the ability to do so – in ten to 15 years, this may not be possible.”

Around 10,000 adults in the UK have been diagnosed with ataxia. Currently, there is no cure but some forms are treatable.

To donate to Ben’s charity skydive, visit www.justgiving.com/ben-wait/

 

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