Wednesday 28 March 2012

There's a mountain to climb - Alex's Story

Alex Staniforth isn't your usual teenager, he's not even average by normal standards, his story is extraordinary.

Every now and again you come across people like Alex - modest, enthusiastic, caring, successful, but most of all, someone who would just say: "How can I help?"
That is why, deservedly, he is going to be carrying the Olympic Flame near his home in Kelsall on the 29th of May. At 16, Alex has achieved more in his short life, than most people do in their lifetime.
But it was not easy for him and what he has overcome and what he overcomes on a day to day basis is remarkable in itself.

Alex was diagnosed with Epilepsy aged 9 and although his seizures were infrequent, the hospital environment and the invasive testing he underwent, left a different type of scar to his confidence, than to one that might cause Epilepsy directly. Although maybe at the time, you may feel in control of outside influences age 9, as you grow up, you realise just how young and vulnerable someone that age is. Even after having his Epilepsy controlled through medication quickly after being diagnosed, he had to overcome anxiety and another huge obstacle for someone so young.
After his first seizure as a toddler, Alex developed a stammer and speech blockages.

Just looking at his GCSE results, would tell you Alex is an articulate and incredibly intelligent individual, but when you have to overcome what he does on a daily basis, it can be difficult for people to really see this. Particularly if you are, like Alex, 16 and aren't on the same intellectual level as peers who'd rather talk about girls, cars, gossip and engage in more shallow conversation.

This didn't stop Alex expressing himself through his actions however - 10 GCSE's (9As and an A*), along with becoming a PADI qualified Scuba-diver, diving with Tiger Sharks and Paragliding, which was just the start of Alex's endeavours.

When Alex lets his legs do the talking, he is unstoppable.

He is an exceptional distance runner and climber. He also just happens to be a world record holder.

At just 16, after organising everything himself, Alex became the youngest ever person to complete the National 3 Peaks Challenge, which involves climbing and descending the 3 highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales, all in less than 24 hours. What he did however, was not just to raise the bar for young climbers, but raise a very substantial amount for charity - £1.7K to be precise.
He told me recently, in regard to a 10km race, he just wanted to get somewhere near the top 5 - in the end he came 2nd overall!

When speaking to him about it recently, he said: "My Epilepsy is very mild compared to some, but regardless - it just proves that nothing is impossible. Aim high."

He's not kidding either, Alex is aiming to climb some of the highest mountains in the world and is already planning his Mount Blanc climb, for which he hopes to raise £4810 for charity in the process - a pound for every metre climbed. You can donate here for his efforts:

With regards to his stammer, well for some being interviewed on the BBC and on radio, would be an easy task, but again he overcame his fears and spoke so eloquently, you wouldn't have known he had a stammer at all, unless he had mentioned it to you beforehand.

You can follow him on his blog: and watch him not break a sweat, while carrying the Olympic Flame in Chester on the 29th of May 2012.

So in the words of Alex, "Aim high" everyone, you just never know where you might end up.

There is a mountain to climb with regards to overcoming Epilepsy, but Alex Staniforth, certainly isn't afraid to climb it.

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