A CHARITY has rallied around to support a sports mad teenager to help her achieve her dreams.
Nicole Martin, 16, of Sea Road, Winchelsea, has a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis, which causes tumours to grow on nerves inside the body and on the skin.
The Bexhill College student is studying a Btec Foundation Sports Diploma, and in order to fully enjoy her course she needs a specialist sports wheelchair.
Charity for Kids, which helps sick and disabled children in 1066 Country, came to her aid, together with generous members of the public, and helped raise the money needed to buy the wheelchair for her.
Nicole’s mum Vanessa said: “We have lost count the number of times she has been in hospital. She also has scoliosis of the spine and leg length discrepancy, which increases her back pain.
“She is waiting for a further MRI to see if the tumours have spread to her spine, Nicole also has new tumours growing in her left leg, there are tumours in her brain which are monitored regularly.
“The terrifying aspect of neurofibromatosis is that we don’t know how many tumours will form, where they will grow, how big they will get, how much pain they will cause or what damage they will do.”
Paul Harris, the charity’s chairman and founder, said: “Nicole has hundreds of tumours growing in and around her sciatic nerve, stretching from her hip to just below her knee, and for a number of years has suffered terrible pain.
“Nicole’s life has been one long struggle and in addition to neurofibromatosis she is also on the autistic spectrum. For years it has been difficult to get the right support and medical help for Nicole as so little is known about the condition.
“It causes her physical problems as she is unable to bend her leg and cannot walk far. She is constantly in considerable pain and has to take a concoction of drugs, including morphine, so the pain is bearable.
“Yet she faces life with such courage. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she does not let the condition hold her back. In May Nicole insisted on leaving hospital and attending the Special Olympics National Games.
“Her dream is to participate in the World Games for Special Olympics in the USA in 2015.
“She is a truly inspirational young lady. Despite her disability Nicole is an active member of Westerleigh Judokwai, competing locally and internationally. She also belongs to the local Disability Ski School. Nicole also loves horse riding and has joined a wheelchair fencing club.”