Fundraising underway to get Emma to the Special Olympics

Emma Hibbert
Emma Hibbert

A basketball player from Glossop who has severe learning disabilities is raising funds to enable her to compete in the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Emma Hibbert, 22, suffers from a condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1) which causes tumours to grow all over her body, and has the ability of an average six to eight-year-old in most aspects of her life.

But having played basketball informally for several years, she was spotted by a Special Olympics Great Britain (SOGB) scout recently an fast-tracked through the selection process to represent her country.

The selection comes at a cost, with participants being self-funded with regard to flights, accommodation and food among other expenses, with payments made to SOGB to cover the costs.

A crowdfunding page has been set up online to help raise the £2,500 required by SOGB to get her to Abu Dhabi and her uncle, Ian Walker, hopes people will be willing to help out.

He said: “Emma has a tough time. She’s the fifth generation of her family to suffer the condition and has to have two operations every year to remove the tumours which grow from head to toe.

“She can’t read or write as a result of NF1 but she volunteers at local youth clubs as well as at the local foodbanks near to where she lives.

“She loves playing basketball and is part of the Glossop Town Gladiators, where both physically handicapped and those with learning difficulties play.

“The call-up came out of the blue and she’s about 12 months behind most of the other players in terms of preparing the funding to go, but we hope to have it all in place by the end of the year.”

Over 7,000 athletes will take part in the Special Olympics with 190 expected to travel from Great Britain.

Emma was a student at Glossopdale School in Glossop as well as Buxton College, where she completed a specially-tailored hairdressing course.

Ian added: “Emma lives on a low disability income so any help from the wider public will be really appreciated.”

Those wishing to donate to Emma’s fund can visit her online crowdfunding page HERE