Ataxia: Carrickfergus man to raise awareness of rare neurological condition with charity skydive

A Carrickfergus man is hoping to raise awareness of a rare neurological condition with a charity tandem skydive this weekend.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 10:39 am

Glen Rogers will take on the fearless feat on Saturday, September 25 in support of Ataxia UK.

Ataxia is a term for a group of disorders that affect co-ordination, balance and speech, according to the NHS.

Any part of the body can be affected, but people with ataxia often have difficulties with balance and walking, speaking, swallowing, tasks that require a high degree of control such as writing and eating, and vision.

Left: Glen Rogers, who will be taking on a charity skydive for Ataxia UK this weekend, pictured with daughter Violet. Right: The condition means Violet (4) sometimes requires the use of a walking frame.

The cause is close to the family’s heart with both Glen (41) and his four-year-old daughter Violet living with the degenerative condition, which to date has no cure.

He will be carrying out the dive at Garvagh’s Wild Geese centre on what is also Ataxia Awareness Day.

Married to Karen, Glen is also dad to Phoebe (9) and five-year-old Leo.

He was first diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia around 20 years ago.

Violet (4).

“I am quite often stopped in my car and breathalysed; people see me getting into my car and report me as a drink driver,” said Glen, a security officer.

“My main symptoms are lack of balance, coordination, wobbly gait and reduced fine motor skills.

“Violet started exhibiting symptoms after the age of two; her symptoms are similar to mine. She is very unsteady on her feet and sometimes requires the use of a walking frame.”

While somewhat apprehensive about Saturday’s challenge, the local man remains determined to support the worthy cause.

“When I booked [the skydive] in May it didn’t seem real, but now it’s this week I am quite nervous - I hate heights,” he said.

“Ataxia UK funds research into and raises awareness for this quite rare neurological condition. Maybe in my daughter’s lifetime, a cure or treatment can be found. I would like to do my bit, so jumping out of a perfectly good plane it is!”

The fundraiser has seen strong support locally, with over £1300 raised through JustGiving alone.

There have also been several generous cash donations, including £500 from McLaughlin and Harvey, £200 from Sunnylands Nursery, and over £500 from the local community.

“Woodlawn Primary School are holding a non-uniform day this Friday to raise money,” Glen added.

To make a donation towards the challenge, visit

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