Disabled athlete raising £6,000 for new wheelchair after horror crash

Posted 14th May 2024

A former zookeeper with cystic fibrosis left paralysed from the waist down by a rare nerve disorder is appealing for funding to compete internationally in wheelchair motocross, after his equipment was written off in a lorry crash on the way back from the UK championships.

Marcus Freestone, an autism support specialist at Northampton College, is hoping to travel to Alabama in the United States in December but has been left facing a race against time after his specially adapted wheelchair was left badly damaged in the A14 smash.

The 25-year-old was travelling back from Manchester having finished second in the UK finals and ranked sixth in Europe when the vehicle he was travelling in was in collision with a lorry. The impact left him with severe whiplash, causing swelling to his spine.

Having already contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that sees his immune system attack his central nervous system, the additional swelling left Marcus quadriplegic for 48 hours and unsure if he would ever regain use of his limbs.

Marcus said: “I’ve been through a lot and tend to spend a fair bit of time in hospitals so I’ve learnt to deal with setbacks relatively well, but this is a big one. I’d love to compete in Alabama but I’m going to need help with funding to get there.

“Sport is big thing for me, it’s important for my cystic fibrosis and really helps my lungs. When I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome one of the first things I did was to Google a sport that I could take up.”

A week later and Marcus was out of hospital and attending his first wheelchair motocross meet-up. He has now been competing domestically for four years, alongside his job working with students with ADHD and autism at Northampton College.

He used to look after the big cats and bears at Hamerton Zoo Park but swapped tigers for teaching due to the onset of his condition. He added: “It feels great to be making a difference and because I work one-to-one I can really see the progress the students are making.

“I have autism myself so I understand what they are facing and I think that really helps. It’s incredibly rewarding and I’m really glad I made the change.”

Marcus has launched a JustGiving page to help raise £6,000 for a replacement wheelchair and towards travel to Alabama for the 2024 WCMX World Championships For more information visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/marcus-freestone