We were contacted by Maria Bee, the mother of Joe Butler, to let us know that he had undertaken a bungee jump in aid of our charity on Sunday 28th August 2016. She went on to explain that Joe is 22, has Downs Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and spoke of him as a fun loving, cheeky guy with a wicked sense of humour and a very kind soul.
To put things in perspective, in January 2015 Joe had a mental breakdown which led to a 6 month spell in hospital. This was really tough for Joe and his family, especially as it meant he lost his residential placement near his home and family. Joe was not deterred and with a lot of support from the hospital, agencies and family and friends, he recovered and in July 2015, moved into his own home where he is supported by Jigsaw, Creative Care (supported living). Jigsaw, together with family, have enabled Joe to be the regular guy he aspires to be and he has two work placements, goes to the local pub, goes nightclubbing, indoor skydiving, quad biking, theme parks, swimming, gym, cinema, go-karting and to a number of clubs in Reading.
Obviously an adventurer at heart, Joe wanted to conquer his fear of heights and at the same time raise money to help people with dementia. Joe’s great granddad was diagnosed with dementia and so he has seen first hand the effects this has had on him. Joe took his training seriously and in order to help conquer his fear he has been on rides at Thorpe Park and Brighton Pier in the weeks leading up to the jump.
His sister Sophie set up a Just Giving page earlier this year with an initial target of £350. This target was met within a week as Joe touches the hearts of all who know him. He has since raised over £1,000 and completed his 300ft jump over Bray Lake. Friends and family were there to watch but there were also many friends logged in to Facebook Live to watch Joes Big Jump. He loved the experience and says “it’s a skydive next for him!”.
“Joe was amazing and so focused. I think there is a great message in this story that we shouldn’t set limits around what people with learning disabilities should expect to experience. Jigsaw and we as Joe’s family feel that positive risk taking allows Joe to feel a real sense of achievement which has a positive impact on his self esteem and he feels valued and good about himself (and we all want to feel that). We are really proud of Joe and are really grateful to everyone who donated to YPWD. We hope it helps others access activities which make them smile and have fun”. Quote from Maria Bee.
“Sometimes you hear a story and it melts your heart. When I took the call from Maria I was truly moved that Joe would undertake such a challenge to help those diagnosed with young onset dementia. We are so grateful to Joe for what he has done – and so moved by what he has achieved.” Quote from Caroline Blanchette, Business Support Manager.
"A truly awesome young man! What an honour for YPWD to be on the receiving end of his courage and determination." Quote from Kathy Taylor, Trustee.