Swimathon to raise funds for boy, 7, with muscle wasting disease

Cole Spencer, of Rotherham, who has  Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, (DMD), an incurable muscle wasting disease.
Cole Spencer, of Rotherham, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, (DMD), an incurable muscle wasting disease.

A group of swimmers are set to take part in a two-hour Swimathon to raise money for a seven-year-old boy with a life-shortening incurable muscle wasting disease.

Cole Spencer, of Rotherham, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, (DMD), in May 2014, when he was just five-years-old.

Mum Kerry Brabbs said Cole was first referred to the doctors in 2012, after teachers at Redscope Primary School, Kimberworth Park Road, became concerned about his communication and behavioural development - but it took another 18 months and many tests to finally get a diagnosis.

“He would often walk on his tiptoes, and was always a little slower when running and took longer completing physical tasks, and had very muscular calves. On the May 27 2014, Cole was diagnosed.

“This condition affects one in every 3,600 boys, unfortunately for Cole he was that one.

“This means that Cole will eventually lose the ability to walk, feed himself, hug and eventually breathe. Children with this condition are usually reliant on a wheelchair ‪at 8-12 years old. The condition is life-limiting and at present there is no treatment or cure, it is 100 per cent fatal.”

Since Cole’s diagnosis, his family, including his mum, dad Paul Spencer and brother’s Ethan and Jack Spencer, have done everything they can to improve his quality of life.

The idea for a Swimathon came from 10-year-old brother Ethan.

He said: “The Swimathon was my idea as it’s something that Cole can do that doesn’t hurt his muscles as much as other sports. I love swimming because Cole can do it with me and our other brother Jack, 15.”

There are around 28 people taking part in the event, including friends, family, Cole and Ethan’s school friends and their parents. All the people taking part are collecting sponsors.

Kerry said: “Cole enjoys swimming as it gives him the freedom to move around as the water acts as a support for his muscles, so he doesn’t tire as easily.

“He has always been a water baby and spends most of his time under the water rather than on top of it. Cole also enjoys hydrotherapy, as the heated water relaxes and softens his muscles.

“We have set a fundraising target of £500, but would be ecstatic if we surpassed it. Any money raised will be used primarily to buy equipment for Cole’s needs in the future, as his condition deteriorates. Some of the money will also be used by us to create life experiences for Cole that he will be able to remember and cherish in the shortened lifetime that he has.”

Cole needs to stretch at least twice a day as he can suffer from aches and cramps, but despite the struggles he faces the year three pupil remains upbeat.

“Cole is determined and has a very strong personality, he’s very boisterous and wants to try everything. He has an amazing sense of humour and is a very happy, loving little boy.

“He isn’t fully aware of his future and only knows that he has ‘poorly muscles’ and will need to use a wheelchair. He is however, becoming more and more self-aware of his own limitations, and has on occasions become upset at the realisation he can’t keep up with his friends.

“He is starting to ask more questions regarding his condition, such as “will my legs get better if I keep taking my medicines” and “I don’t want to have poorly legs anymore mummy”. We try to be positive and encourage him to take part in any opportunities and experiences,” said Kerry.

The Swimathon will be split into lanes, for the different abilities of the swimmers, and everyone taking part will be swimming as many lengths as they can in two hours. There will also be a rest area so swimmers can take a break if they wish

Kerry added: “The temperature of the pool will be raised for Cole and we will also have high energy music playing to encourage the swimmers throughout, we want to make it so that everyone has fun.”

The Swimathon will take place today between 5pm at 7pm at the Rotherham Leisure Complex, Effington Street. To donate to Cole’s go fund me page please visit www.gofundme.com/swim-cycle. Also visit Cole’s website at www.cuddlesforcole.uk or search ‘Cuddles for Cole Campaign’ on Facebook for updates.