Able2Do Anything: Achievements

ABBA fan raises funds for new powerchair

Jess Smith in her new powerchair

A woman living with a rare debilitating health condition has raised enough money to buy herself a new ‘game-changing’ wheelchair.

Jess Smith (pictured above) experiences chronic fatigue and difficulties with walking, symptoms linked with her Ehlers Danlos syndrome (EDS).

The 31-year-old, from Weston, has been using the same wheelchair for years, but had her sights set on a new state-of-the-art chair, but it was out of her price range.

Smith, being an avid blogger and no stranger to social media, is part of a ‘stream team’ known as Occasionally Bears.

When the group heard about Smith’s wish to have a new wheelchair they launched a 96 hour online fundraiser via the video platform Twitch.

The event saw Jess and 16 of her teammates ‘raiding’ each other's streams climaxing with Smith’s own contribution.

As word spread viewers from around the world reached into their pockets making donations to the cause.

Within four days Smith had raised enough money to buy her new WHILL C2 powerchair.

She told Weston Mercury: "Everyone involved was incredible, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

"The generosity, including from complete strangers, was unbelievable and the shared experience will never be forgotten.

"I was so emotional about the joint achievement of getting the WHILL, I kept crying at the end, it will boost my confidence and is clearly a life-changing product."

One of Smith’s first trips in the new chair was a day out in London to watch ABBA Voyage.

"I'm a life-long ABBA superfan so the concert was awesome, and the holograms were so realistic,” she told the publication.

"Moving around busy London had a few challenges but on the whole, it wasn’t too bad.

"Even on the tube’s accessible stations I only needed a ramp and staff assistance once as the WHILL’s wheels were big enough to bridge the gap between platform and train.

"I really feel like I’ve actually got my freedom back."

For more information on WHILL wheelchairs visit their website.

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