People get involved in our fundraising challenges for all kinds of reasons. But they all have one thing in common – they want to support autistic people and their families. A few of our wonderful fundraisers share their stories about why they decided to take on the Abseil for Autism in 2017 and inspire others to take part in 2018.

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Skye Dean - Abseiled in 2017

I have a seven year old son with autism and severe learning difficulties and ever since he was diagnosed at only 2 years old I have gathered as much help and support I could from a variety of sources. I am the first to admit Ralphie's disability has been hard work and full of constant worries but he continues to surprise us daily and make us realise his autism is not all bad and in fact makes him the completely unique person he is. 

I was determined to raise money for the NAS not only because I have used them for advice but I know others that rely on their skills and knowledge in order to gain support. I am very lucky to have supportive people in our lives but I am sure many don’t and so it was important to me to raise money for a charity for families like us who struggle and may not have anyone to turn to. I have previously raised money for the national autistic society, in 2015 I walked from Big Ben back home to ware in Hertfordshire and raised just over £1500. This really inspired me to raise more money but I wanted something more daring and out of my comfort zone. Which is why I chose to do the abseil down the orbit at the Olympic Park.

I couldn’t believe I had actually signed up and I was absolutely petrified. On the day when I arrived I burst into tears full of emotion (and fear) but knew I was doing an amazing thing for my son and many others like him. We had a quick training session and shown what to do and told what would happen, this still didn’t make me feel any better!! As we went up in the lift and got to the top to admire the beautiful views on such a glorious London day I could’ve quite easily have gone back down. The moment you ease yourself off the ledge was easily the worst bit and after some choice words from me I was over and began my abseil. The views were absolutely amazing and I could hear my family cheer from far down below but it was easily the most terrifying thing I have ever done, but saying that one of the most exhilarating and proudest moments of my life. 

In the back of my mind the whole day was my son. He struggles with day to day life, as much as abseiling almost 300 foot off a building is completely overwhelming I can’t imagine how spending your life overcoming things we think are normal and take for granted is. He is the bravest person I know, and we are all the better people for having him in our lives. I never imagined having a son with a disability that would change our world and way of life so much, but we are determined to make this place a more accepting place for him so raising money, explaining what autism is to people and how it affects all of us day to day and supporting a charity that does the same is extremely important to me and all of us as a family. 

In May altogether I raised £1500 which I was completely overwhelmed by and by doing so got the message out to a lot of people about what autism is, how my son and our family are affected by it and what people can do to be more understanding. It was a day I will never forget. 

Joe Bonthuys – Abseiled in 2016 and 2017

I originally saw a post on Facebook a couple of years ago and mentioned to my sister that I was thinking of doing the abseil to raise money for the NAS. We have a brother who suffers with autism amongst other things so its something that I take an interest in. It was relatively close to the date when I initially saw the post so it didn’t leave much time to raise the money. I made the trip upto Canary Wharf with my family to watch and thoroughly enjoyed the descent, even if it was over too quickly! I set my target at £200.00 so I was very pleased to raise £335.58 in the end and was the 6th top fundraiser from that event. 

I didn’t realise that there was another event last year again until very close to the date it was happening. I signed up again and set my target at £200.00 but wanted to beat what I had raised the previous year. I’m a keen Arsenal fan and asked my WhatsApp group of lads who I go to the football with to sponsor me, one of them asked jokingly how much it would cost to get me to do it wearing a Tottenham shirt; they’re our fiercest local rivals and not something I would ever contemplate doing. Bearing in mind it was less than 2 weeks away I said £1000 and I would do it thinking there was no chance I could get to that figure. As it happened I hit the target the night before the abseil so after a mad dash first thing I managed to get a shirt and get over to the event. This year I had my partner, one of my sisters, daughter and one of my nieces with me to watch. It was a great thing to do and the views over East London looking back to the city were incredible. West Ham were playing at the time so was a pretty cool experience seeing and hearing the match go on as I was coming down. I raised £1101.94 last year which made me the 3rd top fundraiser.