Simon’s taking up Cardiff Half Marathon wheelchair challenge to beat hate crimes16 June 2011
Simon Green can’t wait to compete in the Cardiff Half Marathon wheelchair race – but he could do with someone to race against.
The 35-year-old, who has a neurological condition called neurofibromatosis, a genetically inherited disorder in which the nerve tissue grows tumours, and who has been using a wheelchair for eight years, is so far the only wheelchair entrant.
He decided to enter the Half Marathon, which this year takes place on October 16, as a challenge to himself while raising more awareness on disability hate crime.
But he admits he would like to be joined on the starting line by more wheelchair users.
"I’d like to see more wheelchair entrants doing the race," said Simon, from Bridgend. "I’m not doing it in a special racing chair but my normal wheelchair and I’m not expecting to break any world records but it’ll be a good challenge for me.
"I’m campaigning against disability hate crime and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to raise money."
Since Simon has been a wheelchair user, after a freak accident in 2003, he has been a victim of verbal and physical abuse from people and wants to raise the awareness that disabled people should not be subjected to this type of behaviour.
"When I started using a wheelchair I was quite worried if I could lead a normal life and I was worried about being patronised, but what I never expected as a disabled person was the hostility," said Simon, chairman of the Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People.
"I’ve been verbally abused in the street, had people call me names and I’ve been deliberately tipped out of my wheelchair.
"These things have not just happened on a night out but while I’ve been at lunch with my mother and grandmother or just in the street."
Simon exposed the abuse received by disabled people in a high-profile BBC investigation when he wore a hidden camera on nights out in his home town, capturing how he was ridiculed by people.
When he was accompanied by a female BBC employee, two men told her they hated him and wanted to kill him.
Simon added: "The film proved unfortunately that disability hate crime does exist. I travel around the country talking about the subject and it’s far more horrific than I thought.
"What I’ve suffered is mild compared to other people. People have been murdered or even committed suicide because of hate crime.
"I’ve been in touch with hundreds of people who don’t leave their homes or travel on public transport because they are afraid they will be abused.
"Disability hate crime is a real problem and most people know little about it or don’t believe it happens. Many also believe that using words like cripple, spastic and retard is harmless fun, but it’s not.
"Those words cause huge offence and destroy many people’s lives. Anyone going through this abuse should contact the police. It’s not just youngsters who commit these crimes, most think it is and they will grow out of it.
"The worst incidents I’ve been through have been from people aged between 30 and 50, many with responsible jobs.
"I want to show people having a disability shouldn’t stop you living a full life and tell others who have been victims not to let the bullies win.
"I’ve always wanted to do a half marathon and maybe in the future a full marathon. By doing the race I’m raising awareness of the subject and money to help those who have been affected by disability hate crime, to help fund better training and educate people on how such hostility ruins lives."
To sponsor Simon, visit www.justgiving.com/Simon-Green10
To register (£29) visit www.cardiffhalfmarathon.co.uk
Registration closes at noon on September 14.
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