This story was originally written for the Daily Star, found here.
A BRITISH improv comedian who made a day-long journey in a wheelchair for charity was shocked to find how difficult getting around could be… and how hostile people can be – even to the disabled.
“Originally the plan was to journey there and back in a wheelchair,” Ian told the Daily Star.
However after being inspired by the BBC Two documentary Countdown to the Invictus Games: Meet the Warriors, he decided to go the full day as a wheelchair user.
Donations made while he made the journey — which he documented in short mobile phone videos uploaded to YouTube — went to the Help for Heroes charity, a UK military charity that helps support and rehabilitate soldiers severely injured in service.
Having no previous experience of using a wheelchair, it wasn’t long before he broke his initial vehicle, taking a kerb badly and buckling one of the wheels.
Even after gaining a replacement, Ian found that travelling alone in a wheelchair was immensely difficult, in particular uneven kerbs and almost any incline.
The public response to Ian’s pilgrimage was mixed — barely anyone asked if they could help when he struggled with a hill or kerb, but luckily almost everyone he came across treated him well.
He added: “I was asked by someone at a crossing if I needed help but even when I said no, he still insisted.
“When I stood up, he stared at me like a miracle had happened.”
At one point a passing car threw eggs at him as he made his way down a road late at night.
Ian said: “I didn’t get angry because the soldiers who fight for our country suffer so much worse.”
The other incident was outside Kings Cross station at 6am, when a group of three started to get menacingly close to him, and when he stood up from the wheelchair, they suddenly became aggressive and accused him of being a liar.
“I was really uncomfortable, I thought they were going to mug me at first,” Ian said.
“If I was actually a wheelchair user, I wouldn’t have been able to escape.”
The sheer amount of time Ian spent outdoors for the challenge, moving his body weight by his arms alone took a heavy toll on Ian, but circling around the Invictus stadium until the gates opened made his challenge a success.
Ian said that the only things that kept him going are the supportive messages he got during the challenge over Twitter, and the knowledge that the heroes and athletes he did the challenge in the name of had gone through so much worse on a daily basis.