As we today show our support for the European Football Development Network’s (EFDN) #Morethanfootball Social Inclusion Action Day, we highlight the efforts of one fan in particular, who is continually promoting social inclusion for all, regardless of ability.
For Celtic supporter, Kieran Burns, the opportunity to take on the challenge of a lifetime, while also raising funds for Celtic FC Foundation, was one which he could not wait to get his teeth into.
Kieran, aged 24, is a wheelchair user and has spent his whole life with Cerebral Palsy. However, this hasn’t stopped him pushing himself both physically and mentally and he has now undertaken a mammoth personal challenge, setting himself a goal of completing 1000KM during the month of April.
The total distance will be made up through the use of a hand bike, a rowing machine and a skiing machine, to which Kieran will receive access thanks to the support of the Everyday Athlete Gym, based in Glasgow.
Having previously been affected by the stigma of living life with a disability, Kieran now aims to encourage others to have confidence and belief in themselves, regardless of their ability.
Just over a year ago, Kieran started his All About Ability podcast, with a view to creating an open space where a broad range of topics could be discussed. The podcast has since gone from strength to strength and it has welcomed a wide variety of guests, from professional athletes and comedians to journalists and disability activists, among many others. Guests have included Celtic favourite, John Hartson, professional MMA fighter, Chris Bungard and current world boxing champion, Jessica McCaskill.
Kieran’s mission through All About Ability is, as he states, “to highlight to others, that no matter how different you may appear, we can all relate to one another. Regardless of your circumstances, we all face similar struggles and can have an honest conversation to work towards a more equal society, knowing whatever the battle is, you are never alone.”
Speaking of his motivations for taking on such an enormous challenge, he added: “Becoming active and working out was really the first time I started to think about myself in a more positive way. I have faced many challenges in my life, hitting rock bottom and contemplating suicide because of how easily everyone could point out what I could not do and believing that feeling of worthlessness.
“For the longest time, all I could see when looking at myself was a wheelchair. Now, I don’t want anyone growing up with a disability to be made to feel that they are worth less than anyone else. This challenge provided me with the inspiration to put my words into action. Regardless of what you may face, if you believe in yourself then you can show others that you can do anything, even 1000KM because it’s All About Ability.
Kieran has overcome great adversity and, along with running his own podcast, he is also the Scottish Powerchair Football Captain. Fittingly, Kieran has titled his month-long endeavour, the ‘All About Ability 1000KM Challenge’ and aims not only to inspire others through his efforts but also raise invaluable funds in support of a charity close to his heart, Celtic FC Foundation.
He added: “Through this challenge, I want to help as many people as possible to feel empowered and to believe that you can do whatever you set out to do. It would be amazing to also be able to raise £1000, £1 for every 1KM and hopefully make as big a difference as possible.
“I have been a Celtic fan all my life and the values of Celtic FC Foundation have always resonated with me, as they provide support to the most vulnerable in society.
“Mental health has also had a huge effect on me and I know right now that so many people are struggling and need the support of the Foundation more than ever. They are doing some wonderful work to help tackle mental health issues and knowing that the funds raised will assist them do so, was all the motivation I needed.
With an average of over 30KM per day throughout the entire month required to complete the challenge, Kieran has been training hard and kicked off with a fantastic 40KM on Day 1 and he is ready to continue to put himself through the pain barrier to help make a difference.
You can support Kieran’s incredible efforts by making a donation HERE and you can follow his progress by searching ‘All About Ability’ on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or checking out Kieran’s Youtube channel HERE