I’m a proud member of the charity Reach and the editor of the Reach magazine withinReach. Reach helps children with upper limb differences live life without limits and my goal is to represent limb difference and help to normalise disability, to be a role model for children being born today, to raise awareness of Reach and to offer help and support to those with upper limb differences and to the parents of Reach children.

I (Max) was born with an upper limb difference and I have always tried to challenge the term ‘disability’ in order to prove that it isn’t an excuse not to, but always a reason to try.

For me it’s been the motivation to succeed. It was my motivation when I learned to tie my laces and when I started to cook. When I tried rock climbing and abseiling, scuba diving, yoga, Tough Mudder and when I did a triathlon… Because when you overcome a challenge that ‘they’ thought was impossible you see the possibilities. I’ve overcome many challenges but completing the Appalachian Trail has to be the hardest. It wasn’t a lovely graded path; it was the equivalent of climbing Everest 16 times, so we spent a lot of time climbing and pulling ourselves up rocks with trees and roots and then lowering ourselves down the other side. I had to wear builders’ gloves so I could grip better with my right hand. There were plenty of tears and stubborn moments when the path ahead seemed impossible but giving up was never an option. But we did it, a five-month journey that changed my life. Now I know there’s nothing that I can’t do without sheer grit, and sometimes a little thinking outside of the box. 

Max Happy in the woods raisng money for the charity Reach

That doesn’t mean I don’t get shy or have my bad days; up until recently I didn’t post many photos that showed my arm, let alone walk down the road without covering my arm. But since becoming a member of the charity Reach again, I’ve realised that I’m not alone out there. There are others who live it too, and that has empowered me to embrace my difference and use it as a tool to help others and raise awareness, which is why Reach is my chosen charity for our Walk for Good 2020.

REACH is the leading charity providing support and information to parents and their children affected by upper limb difference.  It is a friendly, caring place offering fun activities to encourage Reach children to aim higher.

The charity Reach was a huge help to me and my parents when I was growing up, offering help and support from professionals as well as parents and others with upper limb differences, and now, it’s my chance to help, to inspire others and help those with and without differences, to challenge and change the definition of ‘disability’.