Care home supports potential Paralympian

Julie Bartholomew, customer relations manager at Care UK's Darlington Court, presents the cheque to 16-year-old Connor Cruise and his mum, Debbie Cruise. Picture: Steve Robards SR1802619
Julie Bartholomew, customer relations manager at Care UK's Darlington Court, presents the cheque to 16-year-old Connor Cruise and his mum, Debbie Cruise. Picture: Steve Robards SR1802619

A teenager who has been talent spotted as a potential future Paralympian has given support by a nearby care home.

Connor Cruise, 16, from East Preston lost his leg to an aggressive form of cancer two years ago but his efforts since have seen him back on the football pitch with hopes of playing for the GB team in Paris in 2024.

Staff at Darlington Court in Rustington chose Connor as their charity of the year and raised £820 through various events, including a Christmas Jumper Day, raffle, car boot sale and an ongoing collection at reception.

Julie Bartholomew, customer relations manager, said: “When we heard Connor’s story through our staff members, it was something that struck home with us as a lot of us are parents ourselves.

“We really wanted to help him as much as possible to give him a bright future.”

Connor, a student at The Angmering School, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in his lower leg in October 2015. He had chemotherapy at Southampton General Hospital before surgery in January 2016 to remove the tumour, which meant amputation above the knee.

Connor said: “I used to play football for the East Preston team and I really enjoyed that. When I lost my leg, I was really upset that I would not be able to play football again but then Brighton opened the amputee football club, so when I finished treatment, I joined the team.

“At first it was hard because I was on crutches so I couldn’t play for the whole two hours but now I can do the whole training session.”

Last year, Connor was spotted by UK Sport’s Talent ID training crew, who look for people with potential to get on the GB team for the Paralympics.

Mum Debbie said Connor has been given approval for a new leg with a microprocessor controlled knee, which will be able to predict his step and improve his mobility.

Debbie said: “He has been so lucky with all the fundraising people have done for him. The NHS has approved funding for the leg that he was after, with microprocessor controlled knee, but already he wants a waterproof cover so he can go paddleboarding.

“Whatever we use the money for, it will be for his sport. We are so grateful for the support.”

Connor hopes to have the new leg soon and said he would be able to programme it for cycling and running.

He added: “You have to be strong enough because it is very heavy. It has a microprocessor so if I take a step it predicts it.”

Connor also has a running blade and enjoys swimming. He has been working on building up his core strength so that he can support the new leg.

For updates on Connor, find Keep Connor Active on Facebook.

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