By Mark Hendry

A FORMER Special Olympics medallist from Clydebank risks missing next year’s event in Abu Dhabi after his mother revealed she can’t afford to send him to the games.

Patricia McKenzie, from Kilbowie, is desperate for son Derek, 31, to compete in the cycling events at next year’s World Summer Games after being selected for Team Great Britain.

But, as his full-time carer, she said she will be unable to manage the payments to get him there. 

Husband Martin, 49, is also full-time carer to Derek’s fellow cyclist, brother Martin junior, 21, and the couple has to rely on carer allowances to support their sons.

Derek has severe learning difficulties while Martin has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

But the pair won gold, silver and bronze medals respectively at last year’s games in Sheffield.

This year, however, it will just be Derek seeking to head to the Middle East – and funding for the trip, as well as training fees, will amount to roughly £2,500. 

And the McKenzies’ family and friends will club together to raise the cash and aim to generate donations during several fundraisers they have planned for the next few weeks.

Patricia, 48, said: “It’s going to cost around £2,500 to be able to send Derek to Abu Dhabi. He’s also got to go to Stirling this month to train.

“But he doesn’t get any funding at all. They get no help whatsoever and I don’t think that’s right, it’s not fair.

“This is why we have to raise the funds but we’re not the only family. There are four families from the west of Scotland who have all also got to raise funds to get there.

“It’s really hard but hopefully we’re able to raise as much awareness and funds for it as we can. 

“It would be difficult to take if Derek put in all that hard work and couldn’t go.” 

Patricia has set up a GoFundMe page to try and boost funds and has made plans for a number of coffee mornings with the help of local church St Eunan’s – whose parish priest, Father Patrick Boyle, has allowed the family to use the hall free of charge.

The first coffee morning will take place this Saturday at 10am and a bag-packing day will soon follow at the town’s Clyde Shopping Centre. 

She added: “I’ve arranged with St Eunan’s Chapel to use the hall to do coffee mornings and fundraising evenings. Father Boyle was generous to allow us to use the hall for free.

“The first coffee morning will take place on Saturday February 10 between 10am and 12noon. I’ll also be trying to go to the shopping centres and arrange bag-packing days.”

Patricia said her sons’ accomplishments are deep-rooted in Clydebank as he previously attended leisure centres in Dalmuir to hone his craft.
And she insists all the paperwork is done and dusted – the only thing left to do is raise the cash.

She continued: “Derek used to attend a Unity club in Dalmuir and it was in there that they had said about the cycling team. That’s how he started cycling. 

“He also goes to Bellahouston every Wednesday to do his training.
“I have the official paperwork and forms for Derek now for him to go to Abu Dhabi. That’s all been done and official. 

“He has been accepted. It’s now just the issue of being able to afford to send him.”

A spokesman for SportScotland said: “SportsSotland contributes significant funding to Scottish Cycling and Scottish Disability Sport.

“In order to ensure that funding for performance sport is well coordinated; athletes are supported through recognised governing bodies for each sport and sportscotland’s institute network in accordance with the sportscotland investment principles.”

To donate to the family’s online appeal, please visit alolympicathletes for more information.