Neil Burgess: I CAN parent, fundraiser and all round athlete nominated to carry the Olympic flame!

Neil Burgess is an I CAN Meath School parent. Neil decided that he wanted to push himself to the limit to raise money for Meath School by completing six personal challenges in six months last year.

Neil has been nominated to carry the Olympic Flame for his amazing personal efforts for I CAN. Everyone at Meath School and across I CAN are so proud of him and really hope his efforts are recognised.

Neil said, “I set myself a challenge to do 6 events including marathons, triathlons, cycles and swims in six months to raise money for I CAN. I’m afraid I don’t like running, swimming or cycling, but I wanted to undertake these challenges to highlight the issues children with speech, language and communication face and the invaluable work by I CAN to support them. I hoped this would encourage others to step outside their comfort zone too!

My son, Jonathan, has speech and language difficulties and this means even simple communication tasks are difficult. If you want to imagine it, pretend you are on holiday abroad and trying to communicate with local people – have you ever been frustrated by their lack of understanding of you despite your best efforts to speak with them? This is the frustration that my son faces along with10% of children in the UK who have a speech and language need either as their primary condition or as part of another condition, like autism or cerebral palsy.

I wanted to set myself these challenges to highlight the issues facing these children and to raise money for I CAN’s work. Jonathan and all children like him have this lifelong ‘battle’ to face, whereas my six challenges were over before I knew it. My son is a residential pupil at I CAN’s Meath school and the staff have been fantastic – the care team that look after his every need during the week, the teaching and specialist staff, the family support, the cleaning and maintenance staff, his taxi ladies and most importantly the cook as Jonathan loves his food. The fact he is so happy there makes his absence from home bearable. They help Jonathan and the other children with severe speech and language needs learn the communication and life skills they need to fulfil their potential.

I wanted to raise money for I CAN as their help has really changed Jonathan’s life. To put it into context, in a musical performance at Meath, the children performed ‘A Wonderful World’ in sign. It was the most emotional thing my wife and I have ever experienced and it was truly fantastic.

I CAN is a charity close to my heart and I’m really honoured to have been nominated to carry the Olympic Flame for having completed these challenges. By doing these events, I raised over £4000 but most importantly I raised awareness for I CAN and the challenges children like my son, Jonathan, have to face every day.”

Check out Neil’s nomination here.