Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) eagerly anticipates the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (24th August – 5th September 2021) and will be cheering every competitor as they strive to achieve their goals and inspire all individuals living with a disability. Several MRF supporters are involved in the games, including Ellie Challis (Team GB swimmer), Aaron Phipps (Team GB wheelchair rugby player) and Jonnie Peacock (Team GB sprint runner) – three survivors of bacterial meningitis.
Ellie Challis, 17, contracted bacterial meningitis aged 16 months resulting in the amputation of both legs below the knee and both arms below the elbow. A regular feature at our Pushing the Boundaries events, it has been wonderful to watch Ellie grow and overcome extraordinary challenges in pursuit of her goal. As the World Record Holder for the SB2 50m Breaststroke, Ellie will be representing Team GB in the Paralympic swimming pool and beyond.
Aaron Phipps, 38, has been known to all of us here at Meningitis Research Foundation since he contracted MenC meningitis and septicaemia in January 1999 – causing the loss of his legs and most of his fingers. As an MRF Ambassador, Aaron works tirelessly to raise lifesaving awareness of meningitis and the importance of aftercare for survivors. An inspiration to many, Aaron made his Paralympic debut at London 2012 as one of the top goal scorers for Team GB Wheelchair Rugby. In 2016, Aaron became the first disabled individual to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro unassisted, climbing on his hands and knees to reach the summit. He has raised over £250,000 to support our vital work.
Jonnie Peacock, 28, is a gold medal winning sprint runner who has done extraordinary work raising awareness of meningitis among the British public. Jonnie lost his lower right leg to meningitis aged 5, and won his first gold medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in the 100m T44 final. Jonnie has raised awareness of meningitis through both his sporting prowess and winning personality, competing in Strictly Come Dancing in 2017. We are very proud to know and support Jonnie, who also holds an MBE.
These extraordinary individuals remind us that a life impacted by meningitis does not have to mean a life limited. Addressing the long-term after effects of meningitis is a vital part of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis, in which we are proud to play a pivotal role.